November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 30

Final day of Paul Brookes’ challenge and I’m pleased to say I participated every day. Some prompts were more challenging than others; some produced poems grimmer than I enjoy writing. Some drew out memories, unexpected but worth airing now that any fear or unease is long laid to rest.

Thank you, Paul for your generosity in preparing all this and giving us a platform for our work.

Visitors by Terry Chipp

TC30 Visitors (2)

Rose by MJSaucer

MjS 30 Rose


Night visitors

between the wardrobe and the door
made of shadow and shifting moonlight
they were always there

still are but now I know who they are
and why they are here.
Their eyes have lost the piercing questioning
and smile gravely

welcoming me to join the endless chain
back and forth stitched with shreds
and shards and sighs of sorrow
cradling moon-pale bones and the sepia rose.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 29

Penultimate day of this challenge and the image is The Trees Were So Much Bigger Then by Terry Chipp.

TC29 The trees were so much bigger then..


There was terror then in the vastness of things,
the palpable hot breath stickiness of night,
the lost paths among buildings and trees.

Walking in the valley of the shadow of death,
I would murmur childish pleas
to the great eye beyond the clouds—

show me the way home, not skyward,
the passage to darkness and distant singing,
the beating of cold wings,

just home, to where the birds sing,
and the trees are the right size.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 28

The painting I chose to use for Paul Brookes’ challenge is Seclusion by Terry Chipp.

TC28 Seclusion


Between beams of living wood
beneath branch rafters thatched
with leaves lit by sun and moon
is my house.
Music of bird and stream burble
falling leaves and the wind
in spindle bushes is the balm
in this calm pulsing green
the air clean of electric vibes
the twitter of disembodies voices.
Here would be peace heaven
if only the absence of you was
not darker than this patch
of reflected sky.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 27

Paul Brookes’ challenge Day 27, and the image is We never learn, mixed media by Marcel Herms. When I read the title, my eye skipped the comma and read it as We never learn mixed media. The poem and my interpretation of the image is skewed by the missed comma.

MH27 We never learn, mixed media on paper, 11 x 22,9 cm, 2020

Thor Sledgehammer

Give me something I can do,
a task to make me feel useful,
valued; give me the one thing
I have ever been taught to use.

Let my hands take that tool
and wield it, the spanner
that unbolts the sky.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 26

Today I chose the painting by Terry Chipp Restless as inspiration for day 26 of Paul Brookes’ challenge. It reminds me very much of images of Italian partisans in World War II.

TC26 Restless


They are never still, the young ones
who pierce the mists of obfuscation,
the cynics and doubters who believe in the stars
but doubt the reality of golf balls
and the great never-never.

They make a noise, the young ones,
when they let the words pour out,
the joie de vivre, soaking in music
and good-time drugs,
but they never lose the north.

They will be there, the young ones
who see the truth, the stars,
who have the dreams,
when the jackboots drum and the batons fall,
defending you, me and a noble idea.

I would have been like them,
I think, once,
I hope.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 25

Today’s poem for Paul Brookes’ challenge is inspired by this painting, They’re supposed to be my dreams by Marcel Herms.

MH25 They're supposed to be my dreams, mixed media on paper, 21 x 29,7 cm, 2019


This is what you get, says the Sandman,
teeth and hands red and running,
this is what you get because there’s nothing else.

I shake my head until it almost drops off,
limp as a frost-bitten rose bud,
and the ocean stretches deep and blue and glittering.

The bringer of nightmares turns
away, and the world goes black
as a Sandman’s cloak, but in the dark

the waves still gleam
with the dancing of dolphins
and the golden sheen of apples,

and I smile
because he doesn’t know
that there are dreams too.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 24

For Paul Brookes’ challenge, the prompt is They say that about the meek by Marcel Herms.

MH24 They say what about the meek, mixed media on canvas, 60 x 50 cm, 2019

Ask no questions, hear no lies.

No rest for the wicked, they say,
the devil makes work for idle hands
and takes the hindmost,
but God helps those who help themselves.

Let me have men about me that are fat.

And we, the meek and mild,
the children and their mothers,
the poor and the dispossessed,
the widow who handed over her mite,
we who wait on the side lines for
those promised crumbs from the rich man’s table?

You have a lean and hungry look.

Blessed are those, they reply,
who turn the other cheek,
so as not to see the blow fall
at the other side of the street.

The earth teems with the meek
with no voice, the four-footed,
the winged; all creep into the abyss
made for them by the fat and sleek.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 23

The painting for Paul Brookes’ challenge I have chosen is Ponton de pêche by Terry Chipp.

TC23 Ponton de peche


They wade out from the river bank,
picturesque cabanes, gaily painted,
unheated dens, their little boys’ forts
with drawbridge against invaders and
private notices stuck on the track.

They perch above the floodwaters,
squat herons,
fisher kings of the water,
trawling the mud for catfish
and other bottom feeders.

Sheds on stilts, worth more
than city centre stone
to those who would be gods,
the river at their feet.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 22

There are three image prompts for today’s poem, all of which fit in somewhere. You can see all three on Paul Brookes’ site (my quota on WP is almost full). The one below is by Marcel Herms, Kid Blue going to the city.

MH22 Kid Blue going to the city, mixed media on paper, 27,5 x 29,7 cm, 2020

A new day

The kind of thing we write in stories:
the downfall of concrete,
the uprising of the oppressed,
the green and blue,
les sans dents;

how the sky opens
above the fog and smog
and human filth
and pours, green and growing,
out of the broken flagstones.

When the night trees gather
their peace and let it fall
on the grey, washing it with the colours
of bird feathers, then the earth will sing,
the oceans wash clean our bones.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 21

For Paul Brookes’ challenge, the painting I chose is I need a private world by Marcel Herms.

MH21 I need a private world, mixed media on paper, 24,3 x 31,6 cm, 2019


When the wheels spin, I spin,
leaf, feather, world, it all spins
to the rhythm of my turning pedals.

Sky flashes
flecked with birds swooping,
leaves falling,

unknown voices drift
in and out of my ear,
clear as blue, limpid.

Then they bark,
the parents at the end of the garden,
peering over the gate,

straining with narrow eyes.
They bark about safety
and horrors at the end of the lane,

drawing in my chain.
I strain, push pedals
but the spinning fails;

they reel me in with their
mastiff authority, heavy jowled—
I wish I could fly.