Dusk

Third Rackham-Barnes poem.

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Dusk is the best time to see ghosts,

when the light in the streets is blue

and deepening, and the sinking sun

draws the pale light of golden dust motes

after it, leaving the sky raw and black,

speckled with fierce sparkling holes.

 

Dusk dims sight and sound, and only

cats prowl with impunity, cats and the

white-faced ghosts of dead dreams.

I hear them when the doors are closed

and faces are turned to dish or screen,

the silence turned up high to hide the tears.

 

Dusk light flutters with the wings of

might-have-beens and if-onlys, do-you-

remembers and I-would-give-anythings,

tip-tapping through the growing shadows

and dead butterfly wings with the

persistence of falling rain, sighing with

the inexorable rise and fall of the tides.

O little town of

Second ekphrastic poem written for the painting by M. Rackham Barnes

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O little town of blah blah blah

how still you lie

beneath this sky

where stars look down

and sternly frown

on ghosts that walk

with loping stalk

down every street

but never meet

a living soul

in this dead hole.

 

O starry sky I wonder why

we don’t just die

and say goodbye,

leave bird and beast

the world. At least

they’re dignified

not mummified,

know vanity

from humanity

and live in peace

not war and fleece.

 

Our moral compass broken lies,

to broken truths we close our eyes,

the answer’s always firearms,

and incoherent false alarms

in each and every empty head—

we’re dead.

In our town

There was something about the town in this painting that really got up my nose. Not sure why. I wrote several poems about it for the Ekphrastic challenge. This is one of them.

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In our town only the dead walk

or the defiant, skimming the shadows

of the empty streets after night falls.

 

In our town the house fronts frown,

and windows howl in outrage,

while streetlamps point the finger

 

at ghosts and outcasts robed in sin.

We robe ourselves in righteousness

and join the hallelujah chorus.

 

In our town the streets are safe,

without fear, for behind each window

framed in lace is a finger on a trigger.

Ophelia

Forgot to send in my Ekphrastic poems this time. This is the first one of three. The painting is by Barbara Danin

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She made my blood run cold, the girl in the stream,

all illusions washed away, all dreams.

She must have had them once, but no one ever asked.

 

The one who put the flowers in her hair, the same

who laid her on the riverbed, kissed her

wide eyes and open lips as the water flowed

 

cool and lifeless over her face. This ending,

his choosing not hers. No one ever asked her mind.

The madness too was his, hers the empty sky.

 

She clutched the jonquils in pale hands

and let the bottomless pit, the great black laughing O

of despair’s mocking mouth, suck her dry.

 

It’s a strange fact, but the emptier the heart,

the heavier it weighs. Like a dark cloud full of rain,

when once it sinks, it will never rise again.

Out of the depths

So much of what I write at the moment is influenced by the state of the world. Every image seems to have a dark side. This is another poem I wrote for this image by Dale Patterson for the Ekphrastic challenge. It also fits today’s OctPoWriMo prompt.

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Out of the depths they cried until their mouths filled with darkness, and

they flew. Silver paper wings butterflied them through the murky air,

 

until their throats filled with poison. We watched from our windows

shuttered against the change and chased them on and on and on,

 

watched the birds follow, wheel and wing away, voiceless and

childless with nothing in their feathers but despair.

 

We will wait behind our shuttered windows and watch the screen,

until all goes dark and the water rises, the water full of darkness.

Flying to Byzantium and beyond

I liked the image for the last Ekphrastic prompt and wrote several poems to it. You can read the selected poems here. This is one of my (unsuccessful) contributions.

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There are fish in the sea that fly on silver fins

and birds in the air that swim with sea-smooth wings.

 

There is gold in the light and silver in the night

and green weed, a forest in deep water.

 

There are banners in the wind that call to prayer

and prayers in the wind that call to the banners.

 

Fish, birds, sunlight gold and streaming weed dance

on the blackberry path, for they know not what they do,

 

unlike the wind that waves the banners that point the

way to the black oil-slicked darkness at the world’s end.

I gave my love an apple

One of the two poems I wrote to this image by Teresa Vito, an Ekphrastic Review challenge.

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I gave my love an apple

Without any worm,

I gave my love a pear,

Sweet red and green,

And another and another

Till the trees were almost bare.

I felt that I was sinking

Like water into sand,

But I hung onto the last pear,

Held its redness in my hand.

And the morning star was blinking,

A warning to the wise,

This one is for me, I said

Though you flashed your greedy eyes,

Shook emphatically your head.

 

I gave my love an apple

In the silence of the night,

In the silver shadows’ dapple,

I had taken the first bite.