He remembers home



The hand that shapes the picture

holds a world in brush-stroked paint,


a glimpse of ghosted past, no future

in the black, the white, all swept away


so much debris in an ocean blue,

swallowed by the beast of distance,


and in the calm deeps of eyes,

so like yours and mine, despair.


He sees further, deeper far than we,

remembers things we never knew,


and in the mute, paint-laden brush,

a small life, sings its painted song


a life defined in an alien medium

by the unhealable pangs of loss.

Nights by the port


Nights by the port

narrow streets dim-lit

they wait for some action

smokes red-glowing.


Street-walkers stationed pause

patient as saints for the clients to creep

furtive as foxes

or swagger flash-suited


out of the deep dark

drawn by the red glow

and the soft owl-call

of the unfledged.


Ship’s horn sounds

like a cow to the slaughter

harbour lights glow red

then green.


Act One

Forgot the deadline for Ekphrastic again.

Painting by Prudence Heward.



You feel the eyes boring into your back, stroking the

back of your neck, fondling the straps of your dress.


You accept because it is your role to be the

object of desire, the temptation of the flesh,


and like it or not, play along or not, whatever the

outcome, marriage or a sordid, messy affair,


you will take the blame, cherchez la femme,

temptress, Eve, weak and feeble woman,


so sigh and watch the play.

This is only the first act.

Words and pictures poetry challenge 2

Thank you for responding to last week’s challenge. The reblog buttons seemed to be out of action for some reason, so here are the links to your poems:

Ken at Rivrvlogr

Lisa at Tao Talk

Kerfe at K

Merril at Yesterday and Today; Merril’s historical musings


The tritina is a form that sounds easy…but isn’t. I’m pleased you gave it a try and even more pleased at the results.

This week I’ve chosen a painting for inspiration. It’s entitled Moscow Metro and it’s by Michael E. Arth. It’s an arresting scene, a moment caught on canvas, and I find myself thinking about that girl, who she is, where she’s going, and what the intense expression on her face signifies.


I wasn’t going to inflict a particular form, but I think a cascade might be appropriate.

Have fun and post the link to your poem in the comments. I’ll reblog if the buttons work for me this week.


Hungry love

The painting by Maximilian Pirner used for last fortnight’s Ekphrastic challenge is called either Lovers in Small Boat or The Demon Love, depending on the way you look at it, I suppose. I didn’t send in the only response that came to mind.



A holy terror he was, they said,

he took her down the river,

when they got in the boat

he ripped out her throat

and nibbled a piece of her liver.


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They abandon lighthouses now to the sea,

and waves crash on man-raised stone, submerging.


No need, they say, for such primitive markers, lamps and men

in isolation cleaning storm-proof panes and playing chess


for weeks on end, trapped in the hollow of a needle,

not now we have clean efficient GPS.


Waves crash as they have always done, the ocean swells,

storm and gale grinding stone to sand.


Is this what they really mean behind

the technical words, admission of defeat,


our hollow needles futile as Ozymandias’

raised finger when the ocean rolls?

Waves run

Second Ossawa Tanner poem. The first one is here

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Waves run and rise

wise as the tide that rides the world

and rounds it with a foam-frothed sleep.


Waves rise and run,

sun on the water and star-glitter in the night

lighting the way to hell and back.


Waves swell and fall,

tall as towers showering foam and froth,

spindrifting away on the wings of lost prayers.


Waves dark as the mouth of hell

swell and tell stories of the lost,

praying for sleep in the deep.


Waves, cloud and wind roar;

soar, petrels with storm in your wings,

a beam of light breaks through the coping of the sky.

Where waves

My poems didn’t make the Ekphrastic cut again. You can read the ones that did here.

This is one of the poems I submitted for the Henry Ossawa Tanner challenge.

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Where waves rise to meet storm clouds,

the lowering sky drops among black rocks,

and between is the place where life is forged.


Between the hammer and the anvil,

the red hot stuff is quenched and shaped

where waves rise to meet storm clouds


and last year’s promises are cast on the wind

with the broken packaging of dreams.

The lowering sky drops among black rocks


the complacency of sleek health and wealth,

yet here on the edge, raw and real, in the crucible of cold stars,

between light and dark, is where life is forged.

Those days are gone

Last poem inspired by this painting.


Those days are gone of purple prose

and pink froth-filled bouquets of dreams,

the worshiping at the feet of a statue, a myth,

that never lived and certainly never spoke.

We woke to the cold and the bleak earth

where nothing grew, that no spade could break,

a frost so hard it cracked stones as well as hearts.

Tongues were unleashed and words spoken,

unbridled, unbecoming of such blithe spirits,

and we no longer saw anything whole

in the fragments of the mirror we broke

with our dogged, heavy-handed insistence

that fairy tales are real.

Unshared dreams

I wrote a few poems for this Ekphrastic challenge though they had to be teased out, only very loosely inspired by the painting which doesn’t say very much to me. None, alas was chosen but I shall post them anyway.

Gogol’s Dream, by Viktor Gontarov (Ukraine) 1995. Used with permission of the Matskiv foundation.


You wanted a dream, thought I would do

but the harsh reality turned out to be

that a dream not shared is worthless.


You gave me nothing but promises,

easy as pouring water in the sand,

and when I followed the water

through the dark and cool ways,

the secret and profound ways,

you couldn’t or wouldn’t follow

and sent a herd of wild blue horses

to bring me back to your bare pastures.


They are here still, grazing from my hand,

running through the red meadows of the sun,

the green meadows of the moon,

filling my nights and days with happiness.