Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 31 -- Cherise Wyneken

Sculpture Park  

A crisp and cloud-specked day
we walked the city through
to Oslo’s Frogner Park.
A pastime.
Instead we lit on life:
love of living,
faith in family.
One hundred fifty statuaries
by Gustav Vigeland.
Across the bridge
posed on a parapet,
bronze statue people move
and shout – celebrating joy.
Life cycles in bas relief
surround the central fountain.
Wrought iron children
climb wrought iron trees
frosted from the fountain’s spray.
They smile and climb in happy play.
A rise of stairs
through iron entrance gates
to granite people,
speaking pain and pleasure.
Speaking love.
Speaking children.
Speaking mother’s comfort
to a son who’s grieving.
Carved eyes
with pity, laughter, love.
Caressing hands, reaching out,
flecks of granite –
freckles on their flesh.
I could sail forever
on Norway’s fair fjords
and never find the wonder
Vigeland’s work affords.
*  TOUCHSTONES, Winston-Derek Publishers, Inc. (No longer publishing) 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 30 -- Anne Harding Woodworth

Gestation in Jade
The elephant’s sides, rounded
with circular latticework,
are windows into her belly,
where the infant looks out,
as if eager to leave the mother-ribs.
We lose serenity at times,
when the fill of an inner hollow
seems out of reach and uncarvable.
Diminutive tools play awkward
in the task of sculpting a uterine image.
But the unborn ask us to be patient,
prenatal duty being only slightly instinctive.
We eventually learn delicacy, knowing
a mother and her fetus are all of one piece.

Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of five books of poetry and three chapbooks, with a fourth, The Last Gun, coming out in 2016. Her work is in published in journals at home (TriQuarterly, Painted Bride Quarterly) and abroad (Antigonish Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Crannog), print and on line (Innisfree Poetry Journal, Punchnel's). She lives in Washington, D.C., where she is a member of the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Friday, January 29, 2016

January 29 -- Anne Harding Woodworth

The Miniaturist, 1828
Sarah Goodridge (1788-1853)
When she heard his wife had died,
she painted a miniature self-breast,
(with which he was surely familiar),
he whose name had burst out huge
into the public consciousness.
He did not ask her to join him in the forum.
She was a mere painter of large things
made small, not so much insignificant
as causing the naked eye to squint.
She continued to live off the minuscule,
the pocketable, in her unimportant way,
but no customer gave her workspace the shiver
he had brought about among the paints.
Life without ecstasy left her woeful.
She feared he would destroy the miniature,
the two baby birds, craning, eager in their nest.
But history revealed he’d locked it in a drawer,
as if the quick click of a key could keep a secret.

Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of five books of poetry and three chapbooks, with a fourth, The Last Gun, coming out in 2016. Her work is in published in journals at home (TriQuarterly, Painted Bride Quarterly) and abroad (Antigonish Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Crannog), print and on line (Innisfree Poetry Journal, Punchnel's). She lives in Washington, D.C., where she is a member of the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

January 28 --Alexis Fancher


On Edward Hopper's painting, "Morning Sun, 1952”

No one paints loneliness like he does. Those half-clad women by the bed, on
the floor, hunched over, staring out the window, in profile or from behind, 
always clean lines, such worshipful light. The gas station in the middle of 
nowhere, estranged couples on the bright-lit porch after dark. Even the boats 
sail alone. And the diners. The hatted strangers, coming on to a redhead, a 
moody blonde, all of them losers, all of them desperate for a second chance. 
This morning the sunlight pried open my eyes, flooded our bedroom walls. I
sat alone, in profile on our bed in a pink chemise, knees drawn up, arms 
crossed over my calves, staring out the window. Desperate for you. No one 
paints loneliness like Edward Hopper paints me, missing you, apologies on 
my lips. Come back. Stand below my window. Watch me beg for a second 
chance. Downturned mouth, teary eyes, parted knees, open thighs, that famous 
shaft of Hopper light a white flag, if only you could see.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 27 -- Alexis Fancher

STAYING PUT by Alexis Rhone Fancher
after Edward Hopper’s painting, A Woman In The Sun, 1961

He paints me naked in an empty room. 
Like I need nothing. Like he needs me. 
I’m his type.
High tits. Lean shadow,
blond hair falling 
past my shoulders.
A long drink of water.

There is no escape.
But the window to my left is a promise.
Wide open. Green hills.
"Hold still!" he says.

So I stare at the painting on the wall. 
Another landscape, this one contained 
by a white mat, black frame;
it, too, allows for dreaming. But it only
goes so far, then hits the wall. Like him. 
Only so far before he drops off-grid and 
disappears into the canvas. No 
wonder I can’t stay still.

The room holds little. A bed, my shoes
abandoned underneath. A pack of
cigarettes. My restless heart. A rectangular shaft
of light pours in from an open, second window and
the breeze plays with my hair. 
"Fix it!" he says.

I tuck the wisp of hair behind my right ear, 
just the way he likes it, then put my hand 
back where it belongs.

He says his favorite thing is painting sunlight 
on the side of a house.
"So why paint me?" I ask.
"So you’ll stay put.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 26 -- Jeanne Wagner

Summer Interior                                          

            by Edward Hopper
Why didn’t he paint a scene sun-kindled
and warm as the title, not this room
where I sit, posed like a conundrum, my
body forced into incongruent angles
of shame and desire: the awkward cant
of my back as it stretches from the floor
to the bed, my face forced downward,
hidden by a cap of pelt-black hair I tie
each day in a tight-fisted knot on top of
my head? My blouse a palette of icy
milk and mauve shadow, shown against
a pulled-off sheet that’s somehow
glaciated down to the floor, where I pose
as if divided into hemispheres: one
where the neck of my blouse casts a shady
vee inside the cleft of my breasts; the
other where a dark delta meets the bare
landscape of my thighs. Though I ache
in all the places where this posturing pulls
my body awry, I know it’s a gesture of love.
My skin glowing with the same ghostly light,
as all his inconsolable houses.

Winner of the 2013 Sow’s Ear Prize and the 2015 Arts & Letters Award judged by Stephen Dunn, her poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Hayden’s Ferry, Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah and American Life in Poetry. She is the author of three chapbooks and two full-length collections, The Zen Piano Mover, winner of the Steven’s Manuscript Prize and In the Body of Our Lives, published by Sixteen Rivers Press. She is on the editorial board of California Quarterly.
Poems appeared in the following publication:
"Summer Interior” first published in In the Body of Our Lives, Sixteen Rivers Press, 2011.


Monday, January 25, 2016

January 25 -- Laura Madeline Wiseman

The Fairy Tree

The fairies have cried wolf, stood as the town crier to give the general cry, the far cry, within cry of him once standing there watching where he’d thought I’d gone. They’ve drank from the whiskey crier, cried over spilt milk, cried out their eyes, cried on my shoulder, cried all the way to the bank where they gave the cry of pleasure, crying forth in the moonlight, crying at last. In Iceland, they have The Screaming Tree, a place a man can holler, can scream down the sun, scream off the stars, scream back to who he was before hunger, economy, boss, or whatever had set him off. We don’t live in Iceland. We don’t live among fairies on this adventure, but the fairies live near The Crying Tree, a red leafless creature with swirling bark, growing deep among palms, yuccas, and thorns. In full cry of the blood moon, they give the great cry, the good cry. They are crying out for us.

After the painting “The Crying Tree” by Patssi Valdez.
First appeared in Abyss & Apex, 2016
From An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX Books, 2016)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January 24 -- Laura Madeline Wiseman

Returning to this American Gothic

I’m on the wrong side. You’ve forgotten your pitchfork. I’m not scowling at you, wearing a dress, or posing as your wife when really I’m your sister. You’re not wearing the bibs you don’t own. You still have all your hair. The trees behind us are not the shape of orbs and the house is one in which we never lived. We buy a magnet. We consider donning costumes. The gardener who is also the photographer who is also the cashier doesn’t mind the humidity, the cicadas’ song, the drone of tractors, or maybe semis, maybe the highway we took to get this picture. I’m looking for Rosanne Barr’s ex-husband who bought a house here once, rode a bicycle on RAGBRAI, any proof of mists that divide, impossible deaths, a possible life. You’re looking at the map in your head, the one you point to in the air showing me where we’re going next. I'm listening, practicing that magic. You’re telling me you’re the hero of this Midwestern American tale. I nod because today you are. Here we stand, side by side in Iowa, fecund and green, no pitchfork between us, just our hands.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 23 -- Toti O'Brien

(for Susan Hertel)

They say that you lived in the moment. 
That’s how you could get so much done.
All day gluing tassels of stone on town’s walls. 
Tough job 
but you didn’t complain. 
That fed kids and animals. 
When night came you painted for hours. 
A calming device. 
You chanted until dawn. Morning found you
awake and refreshed. 
You lived in the moment and that was your secret

You fought cancer once. You won, it bounced back.
You thought you’d let nature decide. And nature you knew. 
You knew. Seasons colors light matter
stones clay fire and water. 
You knew rhythm and hours. 
To make food for many. 
To manage fatigue 
keep quiet and let time be your friend. 
You knew time. 

You said ‘must be time to let go’. 
One more task you’d bravely embrace. 
You truly lived simply, Susan
then you stepped aside with same lightness. 
Is art all you’ve left? Is there more? 
Did you weave yourself in the tapestry 
with tiny meticulous stitches 
like nuns did in convents?
Are you a golden freeze in a corner? 
A bird flight 
embossing the sky.

Friday, January 22, 2016

January 22 -- Joan Day

                           B                         R
                 M                                             G
         A                         ?                                      E
H                                                                                 R
                          ?                                               Y    ~    Y 
O                                                                H       ~          A
        N                                             T           ~            W
   H         ~            A                   A         ~            S               
        A         ~                 P              ~           Y’                                   
             V            ~       ~     ~     ~      D                                   
                 E       ~        ~     ~    N                                                          
                          I  T        A

Thursday, January 21, 2016

January 21 -- Sarah Thursday

Dead Song
I wait no more for your polite
I run no longer to your cordial
I let no wind carry
let no night star
I fight not for your uncertain
for your wander, for your lost
not for your stroke, not your soothe
No more gray ink
photograph gaze
No collar bone
valley of skin
I set fire to your words
I drown your colors
all swirl of rainbow
I lie in your grave of kindness
I cough out your breath
I spit you out
wipe the taste of you
from my mouth

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 20 -- Sarah Thursday

Unnamed Color
If I were a painter, I'd find the darkest
blue paint—thick as gravy—
push it slow across a powder-white
canvas, diagonal edge to edge,
let the ridges and valleys of the stroke
seep into a settled mass. I'd drag
the brush saturated in blue past
the easel, over my window pane
across my pale green wall
and onto my bed frame. I'd shape
the prints of my hands where I held
myself above you. Where I saw
you under me like a child, like one
who never married, never had children,
never worked twenty years in the same
company, never had to harden his heart
like police armor. I'd paint
the color of your eyes—
if they could ever be captured
in a shade made by man.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 19 -- Sarah Thursday

Colors for Bruising
1. Swell: fluids rush in panic, raise the skin
like a flag, damage still unassessed
2. Purple: t-shirt logo wearing of pain, most
celebrity, most sympathy for self
3. Blue: first layer under, uglier, sign of longer
lasting mark
4. Green: usually on the edges only, ghost
sleeping under your skin
5. Brown: dead blood vessels dissolving,
novelty gone, even you don't want to look
6. Orange: almost gone enough to be rubbed
off with spit and thumb, will it away
7. Yellow: untraceable outlines only faith
remembers, sing it a lullaby, let it go undreamt 

Published originally in On the Grid Zine

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 18 -- Sarah Thursday

 When I've said all the words I can say
I can only sound.
I dissonance.
I shutter volume.
I scrape metal to metal
–skyscraper groans
–car alarm until it backgrounds.
I tree crack from roots
–siren ambulance, fire truck.
I bone crush
–violin in a cold, dark alley.
I canyon scream
behind double pane windows.
You, inside, sit soundless.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 17 -- Michaelsun Knapp

Native American Gothic
                Wood, Grant. American Gothic. 1930.
                Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Last Show. 1930.
We knew how to walk with our chins
as straight as colts,
but windows were not our way.
Pitchforks, overalls, train cars,
circuses and collared dresses 
were not us. But we were educated
to look through glass, and to cover it
with fabric when we wanted to be alone
in our painted white houses. We learned
to put war bonnets on,
and fight ourselves. We learned
to haunt a gaze like a home.
Our fingers came to know a pitchfork’s handle,
like a rifle,
like a coup stick,
like the feel of our forearms
like the feel of powdered cheeks,
and how to wear it until it’s smooth.
We learned how to pull splinters out with our teeth.
We learned
how to fit a collar
around our necks
and jump.
They taught us
to wear the war paint of their mind.
They taught us
to come when our names were called.

Originally published in The Chaffey Review

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 16 -- Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

His Eyes Keep Following
From The Blue Boy, (1770) by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) oil on canvas

Even from the distance, first
noticing the lapis colors, draped
across capturing this eternal figure,
still young, as you see the dirty whites
of his knee cap britches and slashed
doublet slightly opening at the bottom
with his lace collar covering his neck
and looking past his blushing cheeks
and then you are caught hypnotized by
those eyes keep tracing you, while moving
around the creaking wood flooring you
while staying in his Blue Boy pose, his
focus trails your vision, while hanging still,
even as the bow ties on his shoes have him
frozen inside this painting—you swear sneaking
away his eyes shadow, transcending charcoal
brushstrokes, you swear beyond his silence
now immortalized, with every blink you are
hooked—mystified by this boy’s haunted look
will stay with you, as your retention exposes,
his pupils reveal—his piercing blue disguise.


Friday, January 15, 2016

January 15 -- Kevin James Salveson

St. Francis Dam, 1928

The churchbells
peal out their 
plaintive wail.
The organ murmurs 
its condolences.
Survivors shuffle
and shake
in the cloudless day
under the heedless sky.

A squall you might 
glimpse from a distance; 
I heard soaking wet notes 
pouring forth.

It told of towns and people 
washed clean away 
from the badlands 
when the dam burst.  
Some get a wooden cross 
in the dirt 
to remember their grave 
on the floodplain, 
most don't even get that.
Many people are never found;
many bodies are never recovered.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January 14 -- Alex Simand

The Willow’s Roots

Just a shattered face, trauma unknown,
bits of skull like scattered glass
fall tumbling from the heavens,
grapefruit chunks of brain color the sky.

Bits of skull like scattered glass
a wayward ear falls neck over nose
while grapefruit chunks of brain color the sky,
a misplaced smear of color.

A wayward ear falls neck over nose
over femur over eyelash over pencil stroke,
a misplaced smear of color
washes the world in crimson fury.

Over femur, over eyelash, over pencil stroke
grows a willow tree like rosemary,
awash, like the world, in crimson fury
the child who clings to its roots, dangling,

Grows a willow tree, like rosemary,
stretching down from swan’s beak,
to the child, who clings to its roots, dangling
his feet upward, his head lolling to the ground.

Stretching down from swan’s beak,
the willow tree cries to the child,
his feet upward, his head lolling to the ground,
just a shattered face, trauma unknown.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

January 13 -- Marie Lecrivain

Ingres' ​
Grande Odalisque

Here you are, your cheeks freshened by the breeze.
I was not aware you were so petite.
The virtual world never mentioned these
facts. Why would they, as it’s their job to cheat
people like me into thinking you’re
larger than life, and that your lovely curves
are as famous as the snow on the pure
peak of Mount Everest. You’ve got my nerves
attenuated. I try to make sense
of the shock and embrace the irony,
but your sweet smile disarms my defense.
You know it. I’m won over. Quietly,
I salute you in your naked glory,
and then move aside for your next quarry.

previously published in Ekphrastria Gone Wild