For this week’s Writer Wednesday, I want to share with you an ekphrastic poem I composed a few months ago that I have recently refined.
First, let’s define ekphrastic poetry.
Definition of ekphrasis: a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art.
ekphrasis [Gk ‘description’]: a literary work of art that seeks to describe or recreate in language a visual work of art (painting, photograph, architecture, sculpture, blown glass, etc.)
The visual arts serve as great inspiration for poets. For the following poem, I derived my inspiration from the famous Norman Rockwell piece, The Love Song, which is on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The Love Song, by Norman Rockwell.
Oil on Canvas, 1926.
The Love Song (after Norman Rockwell)
Mr. Jameson and his friend
were about to rehearse –
my favorite part
of the morning.
The metronome counts.
past nine –
right on time.
I had eleven
minutes to fantasize,
and I intended
to use each one
before the coo of the clock
brought me back to my broom
and the sink full of dishes.
Even though the house
was never clean
enough for the missus,
and I was behind schedule,
I welcomed the break.
The charming notes
fashioned by the flute
carried me across
the room, sashaying my body
to the window, where I could
I rest my head against
the cool, plaster-covered
The men and their music, they
drenched me in a melody
strangely familiar, but I don’t mind.
I adore their eager, genuine effort
to compose their notes like
they worked parallel to the Gershwins.
Every Thursday morning,
at nineteen minutes past nine,
the jazz takes me
back to that moment…
I clutched my broom
tight to my heart,
into my usual reverie.
We were sitting on the edge
of the granite fountain
in the middle
of the park, when he first
asked me to dance.
He held me tight
against his chest,
cheek to cheek, and
invited me to trace
his steps, so delicately,
as we swayed…
the love song he wrote for me
into my ear. For that brief moment,
I was his…
until the decrescendo
of the flute and
the clarinet’s swelling rest
allowed the little wooden bird’s
final coo to rush
me back to my broom.
Inspired by a trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast, this poem is a series of haiku formed together, creating what is called a Renga Chain. Enjoy!
Nightfall on the Gulf
The white shore sands sizzle
while the gulf’s frigid water
ushers in the breeze.
Palm trees sway gently,
gulls glide in the sky above –
not a cloud in sight.
fades blue to red, then to black.
Now, nothing but stars.
Celestial sky, now
so close – almost touching the
small metallic dots.
The zephyr softens
and the sapphire sea calms.
Waves never reach shore.
Tankas have become a form I enjoy, and the following poem is a tanka (or a series) of awkward moments. We’ve all had them, so why not make them poetic?
Well, That Was Awkward…
“Great first date,” he said.
Her eyes shone bright in the moon’s
light. She leaned up and
pouted her cherry red lips…
but he grabbed her hand instead.
Study hall… silent –
you could hear a pin drop.
That’s when my belly
rumbles, louder than a
diesel truck engine starting.
Walking back to the
bar, heads turn – I must look great!
Glance behind, notice
people staring… the breeze breaks
the bad news – my skirt: tucked in.
He raised his hand in
class – ready, proud to answer
the question… he wins
a prize from teacher. “Thanks, Mom.”
Face flushed with embarrassment.
Ran into colleague.
Never close. “Nice to see you.”
“You too!” We part ways,
say goodbye and leave… only
to walk the same direction.
This week for Writer Wednesday, I’m taking the easy way out: sharing three of my favorite poems instead of posting one penned by yours truly.
Listed in no particular order, these three have always given me inspiration. Jim Morrison is my favorite American poet (his eccentric and completely warped mind has always intrigued me); I also love the works of Shel Silverstein (reminds me of my childhood obsession with his famous poetry books I would check out of the school library for weeks on end) and Maya Angelou (so inspirational).
Without further ado… enjoy!
POWER (Jim Morrison)
I can make the earth stop in
its tracks. I made the
blue cars go away.
I can make myself invisible or small.
I can become gigantic & reach the
farthest things. I can change
the course of nature.
I can place myself anywhere in
space or time.
I can summon the dead.
I can perceive events on other worlds,
in my deepest inner mind,
& in the minds of others.
Where the Sidewalk Ends (Shel Silverstein)
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.
Orange groves garnish
the south Florida countryside,
so far and so wide.
A girl of ten plays hide and seek
with the trees north of Lake June Road.
Running through the dirty blonde sand,
she stops to grab a fresh bite.
The juice trickles down her chin…
she tosses the peel, hoping
that Farmer John doesn’t catch her.
At sixteen she had her first kiss,
under the early spring blossoms
blooming. Lying in the sand,
wrapped ever so tight in his arms,
believing their love would last
forever… or at least beyond
the first unwelcomed winter frost.
At eighteen, the time came to say
goodbye – her studies took her
miles away from her cherished
groves. In Minnesota, she
found solace and solitude
in a quiet apple orchard.
At twenty-two, she met a new
love and shared with him her orchard.
This is where her forever
indeed began. Lying in
the meadow, she took him in and
tangled together, they counted
the stars that twinkled the north sky.
At twenty-four, she made the trip
home to the sandy groves. She
took a stroll to reminisce…
Closing her eyes, she caresses
her belly while thinking deep –
her new forever will arrive
in just a few months down the line.
Saying goodbye to the
the grove, she grabs one last orange,
takes a taste… goodbye.
This poem went through 7 days of revision, guided by a packet given to us by our professor for our “X-Treme Revision” poetry project. Read the original version here on Versification, my poetry Tumblr. I really feel like it has really come a long way, but I don’t think it’s finished. But then again… are these things ever finished? I may just put this one away for a while and see what happens the next time I look it over. So, if you’d like to give me some feedback, please do in the comments below – I really enjoy hearing your thoughts and any advice you may have for me!
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be composing a case study on my revision and will describe in detail what went into changing this poem. Once that’s turned in, I’ll be sharing it (at least a condensed version if not the full thing) here, in case anyone is curious about how the process went for me.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Tankas are a form of Japanese poetry, with a structure very similar to a haiku. Instead of stopping at 5-7-5, we add 2 more lines, making it 5-7-5-7-7.
Below are some I composed for my poetry class about wind. We are collaborating with the Herron School of Art at IUPUI for an exhibit coming up in November. When I have more information about the show, I’ll be sure to post!
When the winds change, you
feel it everywhere. The gust,
forgiving of the
past, sends you into a spin
pushing you to what’s ahead.
The gulf’s heavy sigh
brings me back to life – opens
my eyes, awakens
my soul… I can now see the
world – unfiltered consciousness.
it tickles my ear and tells
me secrets of past…
the hot days will pass
and cool nights will soon arrive.
Leaves thrashing, sending
limbs flying, debris swirling
around me… I’m lost –
my world, gone, from the Mother’s
wrath and her furious gust.