Saturday, May 20, 2023

New Poems in Ekphrasis Magazine


I have new work (2 poems) in the latest issue of Ekphrasis Magazine.

One poem is based on the painting The Giantess by Leonora Carrington and the other is based on Gustave van de Woestyne’s Jésus-Christ nous offrant son sang.


The Giantess/Carrington


I first came across The Giantess in the book Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy & Art by Susan L. Aberth. About eight years later I bought a print of the painting and it’s been on our walls, on and off, for the last twenty years. I’ve always thought of The Giantess as an Earth Mother figure, or maybe an Earth Aunt: wily, paradoxical, seemingly revealing so much and keeping all secrets at the same time…

I was standing pond-side at Eugene’s Delta Ponds area, looking across the water at a number of heron nests last spring, when I suddenly felt myself inside that painting.

Here’s the beginning of that poem:


Inside Leonora Carrington’s painting The Giantess

While Standing at the Edge of a Pond



Moon-faced, wheatfield hair, she stares past my right shoulder,

into herself, the world, right here, at the edge of the water, where


geese fly from her white cape. Their wings beat air, stir it into

Miocene words telepathically passed between the bird-people


embroidered on her red dress, questioning each other; questioning

me, questioning you: What is the name of the child who was able


to name each individual bee that ever lived? Can you summarize

the geological plot hidden inside the narrative of a feathered


snake’s eye?


You can find the poem here.


Jesus Christ nous offrant son sang/van de Woestyne

The other painting, by Gustave van de Woestyne, I came across in the Belgian Musée de Beaux Arts in Bruxelles. I was stunned by this particular portrayal of Jesus on the cross – the eyes, the face – so I bought a postcard of it and have carried that postcard around from place to place, state to state, country to country, for almost thirty years.

The postcard ended up in some box after our last move and I re-discovered it last year, while searching for an old notebook. I had forgotten that long, long ago, in the early nineties, I had put a little caption at the bottom of the postcard of the painting: Who are you? I think it served as a kind of surreal joke (black humor) about the search for the self.


Here’s the beginning of that poem:


Jésus-Christ nous offrant son sang



The god of death is always with us, constant companion, hanging off

his cross with his crown of thorns, brushing against our skin, staring

at us through red-rimmed, bugged out, bloodshot eyes, always curious,

wondering if we have felt it yet, that sudden shock of being alive, the

lucid-ache of I am here. Inside that intense stare is kindness, a non-human

kindness, the same kindness found down by banks of the Willamette

river just now, between the wind and black cottonwood leaves...


You can find the poem here.



 Meanwhile, I have a new book out: 

Absence: Presence

You can order it at the sites below:

Shanti Arts Publishing