Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hi everyone, I really enjoyed doing this while I could, but I've really been swamped at work in a lot of wonderful ways. I've loved these months of poetry. I'll leave this up for a while. I wish you all well and I thank you for your work!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 21 -- Patricia Wellingham-Jones

In the Eye of the Beholder 

   The Wild Swan, oil on canvas painting by Alexander Pope, 1900, De Young Museum

On the museum wall
a swan, head down, hangs
against a dark green door,
its wings a white fan of entreaty,
head dangling on the long slender neck.

Before the image stands a child,
there as part of a generous school gift.
Her eyes reflect a darkness
that should be unknown,
her mouth a circle of horror.

The small girl tries to melt
into the big girl solid behind her,
clutches her stomach,
struggles not to cry.

The sponsor turns away,
never pictured what might happen
when he gave the inner-city children
their first experience in fine art.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

February 20 -- Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Two figures      

from the painting, It’s You, by Caitlin Schwerin

Greyed, two figures
walk out of the frame,
across the frayed writing,
their history fading behind.
They stroll through a meadow
into a gold haze.
The large figure tilts his head
as if listening.
It’s not the companion’s
voice he hears.
His ears catch
the sound of the sun.
Feet skimming lush green grass
they wander into their new world,
sun behind their shoulders
warming their gaunt forms,
their long bones.
The writing, the writing,
the story of lives
left behind.
They amble,
arms empty,
faces blank,
out of the jumble of their broken lives
propelled by the sun.

Published in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2008

Friday, February 19, 2016

February 19 -- Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Mongolian Art Exhibit  

“whatever holds value may be divine…”

My eye pulls my feet
through artifacts gathered
from thousands of years ago.

I gaze at the human skull—
silver-lined, translucent
brown thin-ness. I ponder core stones
flaked for hunting and tools.

Hear the primordial sound
of the cosmos hum in my ear. Om
resonates in the crevices of my brain.

In vain I look for pictures of a people
who still traverse wind-laden steppes,
live out their nomad lives
in gray wool-felt shelters, take pride
in fleet and sturdy horses.

I turn a corner, stunned now by faces
on the wall—masks of deities, shamans,
in papier-mâché, carved wood, stuffed skin.
Black brows pull down over glaring eyes,
red mouths stretch in snarls or gentle smiles.

I draw near the image of the Heart Shaman,
likened to great poets of all the ages,
born only once each one hundred years.

The face I dream about
is a very old woman, the essence of sorrow.
Forehead furrowed, eyes close to weeping,
her ear-lobes hang past her shoulders,
corners of the full mouth droop
to her chin—the Brain Shaman. She can see
into the next thousand years.

Published in Ink & Ashes, 2005

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February 18 -- Richard Westland

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, 1995, by Lucien Freud


Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund
(the historically recognized great psychiatrist, the Grandfather of psychoanalysis)

I only saw his portrait of a fleshy woman because
I was checking the auction price of Michel Compte’s
Nude portrait of a lithesome Carla Bruni
Holding her heart down low
Sold on the same day
At the same auction
Lucian got the biggest price
For his immense fleshy lady
More than any live painter had ever received.
What was the purchaser thinking?
Was it Oedipal complex,
Or was there beauty here?
Maybe his mother was fat.
My mother was not fat.

What is the appeal?
I wanted, had to have
A copy of that painting
To accompany my Carla picture.

Was it the amazing contrast
Grandpa Freud’s theory that all men want to seduce their mothers,
Or just the reality of this lady
Big Sue Tilley
A British civil servant
Presented against
The dream

Of first lady, Carla Sarkozy…

Big Sue Tilley
Richard Westland, a native Londoner, immigrated to America when he was 25 years old. He began writing poetry as a way to put his life story into print. He has published a chapbook "I'm Glad I'm Here", and his memoir, "Breaking the Code of Silence".  Richard lives in Southern California.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February 17 -- Gerald Locklin

Edward Hopper: People in the Sun, 1960

Two middle-aged people, in business attire,
Relaxing in their perfectly aligned
Folding wooden deck chairs,
Ponder whether or not to be alarmed
By the horizon of either foothills or azure waves,
That seem to be advancing towards them
Like a scene out of Macbeth
Across the meadow floor of level hay.

Behind them a more casually clothed young man
Finds more interesting than daylight
The only written text on view among
These people in the sun.  The artist obviously loves
The opportunity to estimate the comparative lengths
Of the elongated shadows, which never let the people
Of the sun forget the injunction to memento mori.

The sun giveth life and taketh it away.

So far I’ve only had one melanoma—superficial, diagnosed
Early, and quickly removed.  I’m convinced that my years
Of swimming without sunblock were less to blame
Than the radiation treatments the best dermatologists
In my home town fired into my facial glands to mitigate
A near-Bukowskian onslaught of acne that dampened
The social pleasures of my teenaged years.

For now, though, the geometrically ordered  “X-es”
Of the legs of the deck chairs and their shadows
Bear false witness to the order we think we are
Capable of imposing on the universe.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

February 16 -- Gerald Locklin

Edward Hopper:  Bass Rocks. 1924

A distinguishing feature of this work
Is that there are no rocks in it.
I suppose there must be some in the water,
And maybe some bass to be caught near them,
But there is only an inkling of the shore in it,
And a whipped-cream topping of some waves.
Most of the space is occupied by the sky-pastel-blue
Overhead, and the sun-whitened sand underneath,
And the cloudy white of the horizon.
There are a few bathers, heavily armored against
The sun’s harmful rays. And the air was probably
Seasonally chilled as well.  There are three umbrellas,
Two deck chairs, and a surprisingly diverse smattering
Of human beings, in a variety of hats and caps.

What I learn is that wearing a hat myself,
Or a Yankees’ cap, might have spared me the plague of
Basal Cell Carcinomas with which I am now afflicted.
Some fresh sea air might not have hurt my damaged lungs
Either.  Oh, yeah, and we also learn that the exposure
Of an American artist to European Impressionism—
Some study in France, for instance--
Did not automatically foster the production of
A Major Period in even a Major Artist’s career.

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 15 -- Gerald Locklin

 Edward Hopper:  The Yellow House, 1923

This one actually seems to be two houses,
Facing in different directions, the way that,
In Ulysses, Leopold Bloom and Molly slept,
Foot to face, which, it’s said, James Joyce himself
Slept with Nora Barnacle.

The Big Yellow House has two windows
With the shades drawn on the second floor
To resemble human eyes.  The smaller house
Has one window, like a Cyclops whose eye
Is in the back of his head.  At any rate, these two
Structures had both directions under surveillance,
And a grizzly mouth, and a Tom Sawyer fence,
Behind the smaller one.

Van Gogh painted a Yellow House also, and he did not
Give it a Halloween face because he would probably
Have welcomed the occasional visitor.  But they seldom
Came, and Gauguin abandoned the sinking sanity,
And we all know how that worked out, good only for
The lucky few who snapped up the posthumous canvases
Before the professional collectors came to their jaded

Sunday, February 14, 2016

February 14 -- Gerald Locklin

 Edward Hopper:  The Yellow House, 1923

This one actually seems to be two houses,
Facing in different directions, the way that,
In Ulysses, Leopold Bloom and Molly slept,
Foot to face, which, it’s said, James Joyce himself
Slept with Nora Barnacle.

The Big Yellow House has two windows
With the shades drawn on the second floor
To resemble human eyes.  The smaller house
Has one window, like a Cyclops whose eye
Is in the back of his head.  At any rate, these two
Structures had both directions under surveillance,
And a grizzly mouth, and a Tom Sawyer fence,
Behind the smaller one.

Van Gogh painted a Yellow House also, and he did not
Give it a Halloween face because he would probably
Have welcomed the occasional visitor.  But they seldom
Came, and Gauguin abandoned the sinking sanity,
And we all know how that worked out, good only for
The lucky few who snapped up the posthumous canvases
Before the professional collectors came to their jaded

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 13 -- Gerald Locklin

Edward Hopper:  South Truro Post Office, I, 1930

Isn’t the original Truro in Cornwall,
A broad peninsula of craggy ports and harbors,
And coves that tempted pirates and smugglers,
And spies from the continent?
This place looks a lot more peaceful,
Though awfully isolated.  The few locals
Couldn’t have generated much work for
The skeleton crew, but Hopper wouldn’t
That year have wasted much effort on them
If the field had been ‘full of folk.”

And now we may be about to eliminate,
Or drastically reduce, the number of postal employees
In our own era of the smart phone, and the dumbed down
Communications.   Even our greeting cards—our Valentines,
for God’s sake—are exchanged  online.
Our most intimate connections with each other
Are like, for instance, when the woman roaring up to me
As I sat waiting for a light to change at an intersection,
 Looked up from texting, in my rear-view mirror,
Too late to avoid skidding, unbraked, into my modest
Ford Focus:  “Shiver Me Timbers, lads,” indeed.

As an educator, I’m pretty sure our eloquence—if not
Even our literacy—has fallen off a cliff since we gave up
On the English language about the same time we also
Abandoned foreign and classical language study
In favor of the social “sciences” and cranial purification
Fifty-five years ago.  As Ring Lardner would have said,
“You can look it up!”  Yes, R-I-N-G . . . oh, never mind!

During his impressionistic period, Edward Hopper
Was more interested in isolated, unoccupied,
Brick buildings than windows with companionless
Women staring out of them anyway.

As for books, even after the last one is burned,
Forests will still morph into hard copies.

Friday, February 12, 2016

February 12 -- Gerald Locklin

Edward Hopper:  Sugar Maple, 1938

We poets all seem to love Edward Hopper,
But do all his paintings deserve equal adulation?
The Pomegranate 2016 Edward Hopper Calendar
Informs us that the Hopper of this period,
Having returned from Europe enthusiastic only
About the possibilities of Impressionism.  Affirmed,
“I like long shadows and late sunlight . . . I am trying
To paint sunlight without eliminating the form
Under it, if I can.”

But what about the humans for which he is most famous, especially
Women often alone, perhaps staring out a window, or slumped
On the edge of a solitary bed in a sparely furnished room?

White paint occupies about a quarter of this canvas, but
It seems to be just one big cloud with little relation to any
Absent solar source.  There are no people or even animals
Represented.  I learn little or nothing about the trees’
Surrounding soil, grass, and rocks, except that light and
Shadows create shades of green and yellow leaves,
And, without them,
 a trunk simply remains black.
The whole damn scene is pretty blurry.  I wouldn’t want
To look at it up close or for too long.  And I have no idea
What labor draws the sap from the tree, nor are my
Taste buds stimulated.  I am reminded of the Cezanne
Who fell in love with deep structures, as the human factor
Abandoned his very still lifes for the livelier world
Depicted by his friend, contemporary, and, often,
Companion at their easels:  Pissarro.  And much as I hate to
Admit it; in this period, at least, our greatest American painter
Was not the equal of the Frenchman, Monet.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

February 11 -- Grace Marie Grafton

The Dragon and the Phoenix

Neither male nor female, both lovers have
wings. Still believe in
the moon's animal-like
shift through trees
as the basic wood of reality.
How the Pacific surf gnarls
ears and noses into the sandstone
it washes, day and night.
How the turtle hides under the glyphs
of its shell and sings
mud into being.

Don't explain yourself, Lover.
I don't want to see your teeth.
You have admired 
my pomegranate lipstick,
the scarlet tear painted on my cheek,
the redolent hue of my tangerine horns.
I have admired the harlequin pattern
on your breasts, thrilled
to your claws' scrape
on my featherless hide.

We won't think of the future.
I won't think of you losing your
feathers or growing the stone
in your craw.
You won't hear my dry night cough
or notice the peeling patch
on my skin.
Let's drag the folding chairs
out to the mushroom field.

How the epiphytic Spanish moss
snares the live oak trees in the canyon,
how the hoarfrost congeals
on the wild oat stems
to break, finally, what it regales.
Seeds have fallen.
Beauty is wanton.

                   to Julie Bamberger's "The Final Romance"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

February 10 - Grace Marie Grafton

Spring equinox

What gets made in early spring,
before the gold columns of summer
grow fat and bully
the crones of change into surrender?
A thousand circles of etiquette
usher next-of-kin into
the ceremony of upheaval.
The contained no longer
submits, each mote
seeks its own sway.
The yellow witch of the east
(oh, can you see
her snakes race before her?)
stirs up the humus, foments
rebellion, demands sex.
And she is so beautiful,
so beautiful, what in this world
would deny her?

                   to Julie L. Khan's "Closer"

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February 9 -- Grace Marie Grafton

Gold trees

This is where she stood
with her imperfect vision refusing
to wear glasses she trusted
something bending into
her the way water
bends the body's image. 
She wanted to paint this
part of the morning even though
it meant surrendering 
much of her vocabulary
the way the sea wind blurs
palm fronds together,
the way the sea
charms the depths into
fishlessness. Whatever she knew
blended, not exactly the way
red fallen maple leaves
lie in November at the bottom
of the fish pond, 
clumped over each other,
December sediment a dank
speckled breath where the leaves
were. What is her vision
worth? The blackbirds rise
out of the alfalfa field
first as individual
birds then as a kind of
moving blot, negative
against the sky whose color
is indistinguishable.
Someday she will place
her hand on the canvas
and paint that part of the picture
on her skin, when she raises
it off she will see the outline
of her true form.

                      to Patricia Friend's "44th St. Hill"

Monday, February 8, 2016

February 8 -- Grace Marie Grafton

The Womb

To enter the heat of that room,
undress slowly and watch her
edges disappear. She dreamed about
gold and how hard you must press
into the earth to open the vein.
At first it seemed easy, a magic
finger pointed in the right direction
between two eyes and the bones
of the pelvis. Then she realized
it took years of practice to find the opening
and how to operate the drill.
To empty, sit and apply the veil.
First she couldn't look into
the light even underground it was
too blinding. She feared it would never
let her go, wanted to say at the last
minute (before the floor broke through
and everything began to rush),
"Wait, I haven't thought it through."
                          to   Diane Darrow, "Womb Wonder"

Sunday, February 7, 2016

February 7 -- Thomas Thomas

Paul Klee Cat and Bird

bird nests
above the cat's eye
free in danger


Piet Mondrian White Rose in a Glass

rose drinking its last
draught of life - bathed within
severe orange fire


Frederic Edwin Church The iceberg

tiny ship towered
over by small iceberg
in little ocean

insignificant planet
speck of solar system


Edgar Degas Laundry Girls Ironing

to cloud the pain
hasten the rush to death
escape life


Pablo Picasso Le Vieux Roi

power distorts
turns beauty - satisfaction


Georges Seurat Angelica at the rock (After ingres)

in this shame
eternity dressed
with your wealth


Blake's prints on Milton's Paradise Lost

Satan watches
Adam and Eve adoring embrace
Jealous of love

Saturday, February 6, 2016

February 6 -- Don Kingfisher Campbell

Source of inspiration:

Photographers and titles of their photos:
1)      Paul Souders “The Luckiest Penguin”
2)      Scott Marmer “Leap of Faith”
3)      Alex Varani “The Boxer and Its Eggs”
4)      Emmanuel Rondeau “Rhino Bodyguards”
5)      Graham McGeorge “Master of Disguise”
6)      Morgan Heim “Beast in the Garden”
7)      Paul Souders “The Ice Bear”
8)      Pal Hermansen “Attack”
9)      Ray Collins “Snow-Capped Mountain”
10)  Ben Cranke “Reach for the Stars”
11)  Luciano Candisani “Sustainable But Threatened”
12)  Josh Anon “Aurora Over Lagoon”
13)  Todd Bretl “Bobtail Summetry”
14)  Emanuel Biggi “Curvy king”
15)  Russell Laman “Seals On Iceberg”

On a Planet Where

A penguin leaps away from a seal

A wildebeest jumps into a river

A boxer crab belly holds its hundred orange eggs

A white rhinoceros is protected by rifle-toting soldiers

An owl blends into a tree’s bark

A mountain lion nighthunts a wood-decked backyard

A polar bear dives between ice floes

A taloned sparrowhawk attacks a jay

An ocean wave mistaken for a snow-capped mountain

Bare trees like zombies reach up at night to the stars

A goggled boy floats in clear shallow ocean seeking starfish to place in his lipped plastic bowl

An aurora borealis streaks pink over an icy blue lagoon

A bobtail squid has eight curling symmetrical arms lined with nodules

A hook-horned Alpine ibex stares down from a cliff ledge

Seals sleep on an iceberg in Antarctica

Some humans internet search for nature photos to post on their Facebook feeds

Friday, February 5, 2016

February 5 -- Kathleen McClung

Carol Greene, Self-Portrait, 2009
You paint not troubled souls but harmony:
Calm, bare-armed girl, first flute. Gray-goateed man
in white shirt, humming, burps a grandbaby.
You smile in aqua turtleneck. I can
imagine how you tucked your photograph
beside this canvas, looked long, listened, chose
a slender brush, embarked on song of self:
One shadowed cheek, one bright. Peach hues for nose.
Reflected glints in oval lenses. Eyes—
like Alice’s, like mine— the useful blue
of ocean, sky, and wing that shimmer, rise,
and blur beyond your studio, same blue
as backdrop cradling white crown, each wrinkle, fold
of flesh. New, lilting hymn to women’s faces, old.
Previously published as Sonnet 7 of “Lighter than Her Lace: A Crown of Borrowed Self-Portraits” in Unsplendid’s July 2014 double issue on women and form 5.3 + 6.1
Carol Greene lives and paints in San Jose, California. Her portraits may be viewed at

Thursday, February 4, 2016

February 4 -- Kathleen McClung

Behind the White Bird
     after Tatiana Lyskova’s painting, “White Bird,” 2008
Which one of us
holds tighter—you,
timid cockatiel, tall
as a snowman, crown
of green tendrils
curving above our heads?
Or me,
ruby red party dress
spraying past
my hairless thighs
into our kaleidoscope
of a room?
Entranced, claw
to wrist, I give you
a secret name,
whisper into your ear
a charm, a promise
I will break.
One palm
sinks in feathers,
the other, chiffon.
My lips, for now, press
only your white pillow skull.
We do not fly or sing.
 Previously published in Ekphrasis, Fall/Winter 2013
“White Bird” may be viewed at
Kathleen McClung is the author of Almost the Rowboat (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and her award-winning work appears widely in journals and anthologies. She teaches at Skyline College and the Writing Salon and serves as judge for the sonnet category of the Soul-Making Keats literary competition. A native of California, she lives in San Francisco.