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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Three Ekphrastic Poems by Neil Ellman

Three Ekphrastic Poems by Neil Ellman

Multiplication of the Arcs, 1954
(On the painting Multiplication of the Arcs, 1954 by Yves Tanguy)

In the land where breath escapes
No air, no clouds
Not of this world
A ghostly presence reigns
Not of any world
These shattered arcs
Abandoned children of the sky
Strewn like broken toys
Speaking gibberish
In the land where time decays
To bits and pieces of a life
As if multiplicity alone
Explains the curvature of space
In the land where breath escapes.
No one knows your name.

The Philosopher’s Conquest
(On the painting The Philosopher’s Conquest, 1914 by Giorgio de Chirico)

In this endless war
With artichokes for cannonballs
And listless streets
Like bloodless arteries—
We wait

It is 1:28 pm
Invasion imminent
We cower in the colonnades
Barely breathe—
And wait

The soldiers are gone as well
Trading valor for a chance to die
Another day
In yet another war—
They could not wait for us.

A windowless train departs
With trembling clouds of steam
Taking its chance on providence
And an unlikely peace—
We wait out turn

If it comes to it
We’ll eat each other’s flesh
With artichokes
To see another dawn
Or die where we were born.

Mao Tse-tung
(On the painting Mao Tse-tung from Series of Silk Screens by Andy Warhol, 1972)

His face
Is just a face
In blue
Like any other face
In blue
His face
Is blue
Not betraying

And red
His face
Is just as blue
As red
Like any other face
Is red
So like a god
But not.

And green as fire
As fire is blue
And red
When nothing
Else is true.

Author’s Bio: Neil Ellman lives and writes in New Jersey (USA) and has published numerous poems in print and online journals throughout the world, as well as in five chapbooks of ekphrastic poetry, the most recent of which is Mirrors of MirĂ³: Ekphrastic Reflections of the Art of Joan MirĂ³ (Flutter Press, 2011).

These are the ekphrastic poems based on the works of modern art by different artists. In each case, the title of the poem is the title of the original image.

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