Archives for posts with tag: Art

Winslow_Homer_-_Canoe_in_Rapids_(1897)
How to Paddle Upstream
by Ken Gierke

Consumed with your own thoughts,
always going it alone because
that’s the silence that comforts you,
there’s no easy way to get back
if you start paddling downstream.

So pull yourself along the bank.
The lee side, of course.
Why start now with the risks?
Stroke left, then right, head-on
into the current, meeting snags,
obstructions, knowing you can
always turn back to the beginning
by drifting along the easy course
you’ve followed all along.

Or face those challenges, solve
the problems you encounter.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn
something about life along the way,
learn to set your own course
once you rejoin the flow.

PAINTING: Canoe in Rapids by Winslow Homer (1897).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have an affinity to water, so it often appears in my poetry. A slight breeze will bring to mind an image of ripples on the water. A strong wind will remind me of the waves that once washed over my kayak. The glassy surface of a lake will remind me of a moment of serenity, inducing memories that can shape the words for something totally unrelated. Feeling the roar of a thundering waterfall pounding through my chest will remind me of a love I hold and shape the words to express it in a poem. It comes down to the senses and the cues they provide. My words just seem to form around them.

Gierke2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Gierke started writing poetry in his forties, but found new focus when he retired. It also gave him new perspectives, which come out in his poetry, primarily in free verse and haiku. He has been published at Silver Birch Press, Vita Brevis, The Ekphrastic Review, Amethyst Review, Eunoia Review, and his poem “Unwound”  was included in Pain & Renewal: A Poetry Anthology (Vita Brevis Press). His work can be found at rivrvlogr.wordpress.com.

sunrise.jpg!Large
How to Tell Time in a Pandemic
by Barbara Crary

The day dawns in muted tones of mauve and pale yellow behind the bare branches of the maple tree. We awaken early to the calls of male and female cardinals announcing their presence to one another in the cold winter breeze. Today the dawn arrives earlier than it did yesterday as we move almost imperceptibly toward spring. We wait for our walk until the sun is high in the sky, hoping for warmth and contenting ourselves with the sparkle of sunlight on icy banks of leftover snow. We walk for an hour with no clear destination beyond our return home to an afternoon of coffee and conversation as evening falls. Dinner follows and in the gathering darkness, we drowse contentedly before it is time for bed. The moon, ever changing and ever present, rises to watch over us as we sleep and hope to dream. The day dawns anew.

sunrise to sunrise
no need to number the days
the sky is our clock

PAINTING: Sunrise by Georgia O’Keeffe (1916).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this year of the pandemic, I have found myself increasingly attentive to the rhythms and beauty of the natural world. I’ve begun writing haibun as a way of focusing my attention more clearly, and have found this a great source of pleasure during the lockdown.

crary1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Crary is a retired school psychologist who lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She started writing poetry several years ago, and often writes in short forms such as haiku. She enjoys the discipline of creating found poetry using words selected from existing texts. Barbara was a contributing poet to the collection, Whitmanthology: On Loss and Grief and has also written for Silver Birch Press.

across-the-orange-moons-1967.jpg!Large
How to Cure a Writer’s Block
by Shahé Mankerian

for Aram Saroyan

To my students I say, “Go outside
at midnight and climb the tilted trellis

to the roof. Grip the waterspout.
Keep the finch’s nest and the sprout

of moss intact. Like Jesus, pretend
the ceramic shingles are your Sea

of Galilee. Find the chimney and rest
your back against soot of the bricks.

Crickets—crickets—crickets—
Fix your gaze on the glaze

of the black blanketed sky.
Tuck yourself in. The full moon

will ascend like a Chantilly cake.
Squint your eyes and take a bite.”

PAINTING: Across the Orange Moons by Alexander Calder (1967).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is an homage to a friend and a renowned minimalist poet, Aram Saroyan. For many years, it has been an eighth grade tradition to recite Saroyan’s minimal poems at the school I teach (and administer). During recitations, students love his compressed poems because of their rhythmic and melodically soothing qualities. Crickets—crickets—crickets— 

Mankerian

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School. He is on the board of International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His debut poetry collection, History of Forgetfulness, will be published by Fly on the Wall Press in October 2021.

calder three black stars
How to Wonder About the Sky
by Mohini Malhotra

You wear twilight-slate-blue, colors of a winter sky, an upside-down ice rink
Do you choose your colors each dusk?
You’re still this evening. Your grey-blue mantel is expansive, like you’re dressed for an outing that’s pensive, somber, a requiem . . . 
Or maybe you’re just settling in to write a poem. It’s that kind of a grey-blue, what I imagine to be the color of a thought
How do you see us? Blue, like we see you, or, do you think you’re looking at your reflection?
As I wonder, stars pop out from nowhere, and dangle on your velvet cloak like fairy lights on a tree

It’s the dark, I say, even more than the cold
Dark that swoops in suddenly and swallows your light
The day ends far too early, for me a nightbird, and bones don’t stop chattering
I brew hot tea and wrap a blanket around feet born cold
Light candles that flicker shadows and spirits on the wall — characters right off pages of my book
While tea quiets the bones, and the blanket lulls me to dream

I cheat Night by rising early — stretch the day the other way than my usual
And, I spy the sky-painter, tiptoed on a cloud, brushstrokes of pinks and scarlets and lavenders
A show for those who wonder — who wakes you up Sky?

PAINTING: Three Black Stars by Alexander Calder (1963).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this particular piece in a zoom writing workshop taught by Mary Hall Surface, a DC-based writer. We read a poem by Mary Oliver in the class, and one prompt was to look around us to see what gives us wonder and I saw the sky out of my large window.

Malhotra

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mohini Malhotra is an international development economist, adjunct professor, and founder of a social enterprise (artbywomen.gallery) to promote women artists and invest in causes that better the lives of women and girls. She loves language and her fiction has appeared in Gravel, West Texas Literary Review, Silver Birch Press, Blink-Ink, Flash Frontier, 82 Star Review, A Quiet Courage, Writers’ Center, and several anthologies.

dandelions-1985.jpg!Blog
A Quest, for an ideal dandelion soup
by Steven Bridenbaugh

Dandelions are ubiquitous, but around here
The fuzzy leaves of cats ears more commonly abound.
But early California March
Beneath a stately larch
A robust colony I found.

I want more than just a leaf
Next to the root, is the heart.
Soaked in water and ice
Thrice washed makes it very nice
One cup chopped: the first part.

To this part, add one part parsley
And of Swiss chard, two parts.
These greens are surely not all that entices
To begin, in a dry pan roast whole spices:
Fennel, coriander, turmeric, and cumin, just to start.

Asafoedita, black pepper, and a pinch
Of cayenne, by hand well ground
With mortar and pestle is best
These spices will divest
To a vegetable broth something that will astound.

I wilt chopped leaves with ashwaganda ghee
With boiling broth complete
In ten minutes green and dark they will be
A blender perfects the sorcery
To this poet, not bitter, and to aging bones, most sweet.

IMAGE: Dandelions by Yayoi Kusama (1985).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have been reading about harvesting wild plants, and my lawn is a good source for them, since I have never used herbicides. This recipe illustrates a good way to make wild harvested plants more appetizing. True dandelions are not always easy to find in my area. Cats ears are a kind of dandelion, which is also edible. I have made a dandelion salad, following  instructions by Jacques Pepin, using cats ears, and they were delicious, but not as visually appealing as young dandelion. When you harvest dandelion leaves, try to include the white base of each stem, as it is very nutritious, and adds to the flavor. The bitterness of dandelion leaves is diminished by fat. To make a small amount of ashwaganda ghee, I heat a cup of water in a small pan, together with half a teaspoon of ashwaganda powder and a tablespoon of ghee from my bottle of clarified butter in the refrigerator. After the water is mostly evaporated, I toss the liquid into the greens, and braise them. I should add that it it is worth the effort, to grind freshly toasted spices with mortar and pestle, just as they do in India. My recipe is based on one in Kate O’Donnell’s Everyday Ayurveda Guide to Self Care.

Bridenbaugh copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steven Bridenbaugh is a retired teacher, construction worker, and mental health worker. In the last few years, he has been occupied with writing, playing guitar, and he is a student of Ayurveda and Vegan Cooking. Why? Because it tastes so good! He lives in Eureka California, and owns an older home which he is gradually remodeling. He is sorting boxes of books, which he has acquired over the years, mostly from secondhand stores. He plans to read most of these books, or find people who can appreciate them. If by any chance, you haven’t read The Vicar of Wakefield he will gladly give you a copy, as soon as he finishes reading it. Visit him on Facebook.

mystical-conversation redon
How to Lose Your Mom Over and Over
by Lylanne Musselman

After her hard falls, more messy accidents,
you give in to the reality mom is too hard to handle
at home, since dementia has deteriorated her health
in these two years you’ve been sole caregiver.

Confined to her wheelchair, it’s a mystery how
she escaped the first nursing home you thought
extremely secure. You’re thankful she didn’t become
a statewide Silver Alert in that chilly October air.

With mom settled into a new facility, you make it through
a first Christmas without her at family gatherings. Visit her
four or five times a week. Adapt to other’s well-meaning phrase:
“You’re so lucky! At least you still have your mom.”

Never expect a pandemic lockdown of nursing homes,
or that her hugs from last March will have to hold you.
Call her often, she doesn’t understand why you’re not visiting,
she cries hearing your voice, you never know how to hang up.

Summer, a reprieve of outdoor visits, with masks, six feet apart,
no hugs, no touching. Hard for her to understand the need
for distance, she accuses you of not caring whether she’s dead
or alive, then begs to drive. So much for happy visits.

In autumn, her nursing home locks down again. You’re thankful
they have no Covid-19 cases. Until they do in late October,
then the call: “Your mom has a fever spike.” Nurses assure you
she’s tested negative twice. In November, she’s isolated

in the Covid unit, afraid and alone. Her nurse calls several times:
“Your mom is yelling nonstop! We don’t know how to calm her down.”
Upsetting since no visits are allowed. That Monday, go stand outside
her window. She recognizes you, but she’s a shell of herself.

Her death glares you in the face. Hospice needs to be called.
On Friday the 13th: “Honey, your mom is going to meet Jesus.
It won’t be long.” These words are hard to hear anytime,
but when you can’t be there, it’s cruel. You’re isolated, lost.

You hope she’s in a better place. Know she hated the rest “home,”
being forced to play Bingo, being limited to that wheelchair,
never knowing why her parents weren’t visiting.

PAINTING: Mystical Conversation by Odilon Redon (1896).

Musselman2 copy

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I saw the call for a “How to” poem, I knew I had to write about what it was like to deal with my mom’s dementia, the nursing home, and then her death. 2020 was a hard year. I felt by writing about the experience in this way, it would not feel like such a heavy poem, and it would be one that I could write without feeling that I couldn’t deal with the pain of it all over again. Anyone who deals with a loved one with dementia knows what a hard thing it is, and then when a pandemic hits and puts so many limitations on everyone, it makes a hard situation harder. My mom didn’t survive the year, and I’m still processing all that’s happened. Being a poet helps, as most of us know it’s how we process our feelings.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: I had to include a photo taken last summer during the few months that I was able to visit my mom, outside with a mask, and at a distance. She was not one to keep her mask on. I miss her, and those hard visits.

Musselman1 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lylanne Musselman is an award-winning poet, playwright, and visual artist, living in Indiana. Her work has appeared in Pank, The Tipton Poetry Journal, The New Verse News, Rose Quartz Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and The Ekphrastic Review, among others, and many anthologies. Musselman is the author of five chapbooks, including Red Mare 16 (Red Mare Press, 2018), a co-author of the volume of poetry, Company of Women New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and the author of the full-length poetry collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately (Chatter House Press, 2018). Musselman is currently working on another volume of poetry. Visit her at lylannemusselman.wordpress.com and on Facebook

two women and dove 1956
How to love a daughter
by Rose Mary Boehm

She will never forgive you
your love. She will reject the profound knowledge
that you are bound to each other.
Oh, sometimes, very occasionally,
she’ll almost be seduced by your insistence.
Make no mistake, it’s only a truce,
never peace. There is no steadfastness
in her offering of absolution.
She loved you once with a fierce
and all-consuming emotion.
That she will never forgive.
Neither will she forgive
that you had a life of your own,
that you needed to leave for fear
of the master. She looks at you
and finds you wanting
and tells you in a roundabout way
that you failed.
And you know you are guilty.
You look into her eyes
and feel her pain. She is judging you
and you will never forgive yourself.

IMAGE: Two Women and Dove by Pablo Picasso (Lithograph, 1956).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first marriage became a little “crowded” at one point, and quite untenable. I had to leave. I left the country for what I thought would be two or three years. My daughter, 19 and a bit at the time, was the hardest hit. And, even though I supposedly left them with their father, he soon moved in with his girlfriend. Soon her older brother left too. She stayed behind in our big, old, rambling family home. It took my daughter years to “forgive” me. I carried the guilt for a long time.

BOEHM2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fourth poetry collection, The Rain Girl, was published by Chaffinch Press in 2020. Visit her at rose-mary-boehm-poet.com and YouTube.

mary cassatt 1
How to find your voice
By JC. Sulzenko

It’s not every day your voice forsakes you.

From childhood on, I learned songs by ear—nursery rhymes, carols, Broadway tunes, gospel, folk, and rock.

I sang around campfires, on long car rides, in a mass choir, and later in an a capella group.

Just after my mother died, I dropped out. I got used to humming anthems and pop songs to myself, to whispering lullabies to my grandchildren.

Until the other day, when I had my granddaughter’s attention and remembered that song about wheels on the bus.

I heard the melody in my head and started to sing, but the notes, the words came out with a rasp and off-key.

I drank cold water and tried again. I switched to a simpler rhyme, with the same results. That’s when I had to admit my singing voice was missing. I needed to find it.

I began in the top left hand drawer of my dresser where I keep practical things—nail files, combs, unopened lipsticks and compacts, single buttons, along with an array

of discouraging cloth facemasks. What had I hoped to find there? If not my voice, then a clue as to where it had gone and why.

I rummaged in the back of my closet, behind the silk sheaths that won’t fit until I emerge from this claustrophobic cocoon, my wonky hip is replaced, and I can exercise without

pain. I pulled out my jewelry box—I’d forgotten the crystals I wore to the last party we attended when we could go wherever we wanted. I put them back.

I speculated. Perhaps my singing voice had gone dormant under the fine snow, which fell for a day, a night and sculpted the landscape to its design.

Or perhaps, constricted by lockdowns, my voice escaped and fled into heaven’s blues, icy Blues. Or perhaps it simply lost itself, whatever the reasons.

It needn’t worry that it’s not good enough. The child will recognize her grandmother’s music, even on a small screen.

ART: The Banjo Lesson by Mary Cassatt (1893).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As most of my interaction with everyone outside the home, including our family, has become virtual, I noticed how my own inner and outer dynamics have shifted. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not. Prolonged isolation has affected my self-discipline, my sense of purpose, and my readiness to write. It also has made me realize how much I miss singing with other people. Instead of shelving poetry ideas as I am wont to do at this point in my life, I felt some urgency to compose “How to find your voice” once I saw Silver Birch Press’s call for “how to’” poems. As an aside, I recently joined an online choir and enjoy the sessions more and more each week.

js2-copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JC Sulzenko’s poems appeared on Arc’s Poem of the Year shortlist, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and Oratorealis, in anthologies and online, either under her name or as A. Garnett Weiss. Silver Birch Press and The Light Ekphrastic publish her. In 2020, her work appeared in Vallum, the Naugatuck River Review, and the Poetry Leaves project. She won the Wind and Water Writing Contest and the WrEN award (Children’s Poetry) and judged poetry for the National Capital Writing Contest in 2019.  Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press) the Poet’s Pathway, and County CollAboRaTive projects featured her in 2018. Point Petre Publishing released JC’s South Shore Suite…Poems (2017). Her centos took top honours in The Bannister Anthology (2016, 2013). She presented workshops for the Ottawa International Writers Festival, the Canadian Authors Association, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Ottawa Public Library, and a number of Alzheimer societies, among others. She has published six books for children and co-authored poetry chapbooks Slant of Light and Breathing Mutable Air  with Carol A. Stephen. Based in Ottawa, Canada, JC curates the Glebe Report’s “Poetry Quarter” and serves as a selector for bywords.ca. Visit her at jcsulzenko.com.

the_crocheting_lesson_1943.3.2767
Crocheting – Nana’s Voice
by Julie A. Dickson

I can hear Nana’s voice:
crocheting is not knitting,
as she watched my hands struggle
with needles and yarn, dropped
stitches leaving holes everywhere.
Nana tatted lace and crocheted
fine even stitches on doilies,
tablecloths and afghans.
I decided to crochet at age 8.

Picture the finished project,
afghan, lap robe or shawl.

Yarn ready, crochet hook size 6.5
casting on is similar to knitting
single or double crochet — yay!
Much easier so far, keep going;
grab a stitch and catch a loop.
Oh no, my fingers are cramping,
look at the rows building; am I
crocheting an afghan? Mother
asked for afghans each year,
his and hers for their chairs;
how many did I crochet?

Fast forward thirty years.

Nana is gone, Mother is gone;
I’d forgotten how to crochet,
but a grandson on the way —
struggle to recall her voice;
cast on stitches, single, double;
count the rows, edge the sides
like a frame, now you’ve got it.

I cannot stop crocheting now;
baby afghan complete —
lap robes all around! Turquoise
and white, navy and maroon,
soon I’ll be broke from buying
all this yarn

DRAWING: The Crocheting Lesson by Mary Cassatt (1902).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I learned to crochet at age eight years, made countless doilies, pot holders, lap robes, and afghans. I finally stopped in my thirties, too busy with work and family for craft projects. In 2020, I was expecting my first grandchild and remembered back to my Nana, who had crocheted my baby blanket. For the past few months, during Covid, between working and visiting my grandson, I have, through many early attempts, finally achieved a decent afghan, crocheting until my hands hurt, a labor of love.

Dickson_ crochet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie A. Dickson is a crocheting poet whose work addresses nature, environment, captive elephants, teen issues, and human events. Her poetry can be seen in Ekphrastic Review Silver Birch Press, Poetry Quarterly, The Avocet,  among other journals, or on Amazon for full length works. Dickson has two rescued feral cats called Cam and Claire who watch her crochet and play with the yarn.

Acrylic Pour Four Lindsey April 2019
Acrylic Pour at the Art Center
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen
                    for Theresa Henderson

This method scares me—no brushes,
no palate knives. We pour paint—
mostly white—into a Dixie cup,
three other cups hold one color
apiece: turquoise, navy, or pink.

We fold Floetrol, water, and three
drops of silicone into each.
Then we pour Dixies one at-a-time,
holding them high, into a plastic custard
cup we flip onto canvas. We wait,

then slide, tilt, and roll the paint.
I worry I cannot create the shiny
abstract scenes filled with “cells”
that form eyes on a glossy canvas.
I still don’t know if I can make it:

The key, I’m told, is giving up control.

PAINTING: In Bloom by Lindsey Martin-Bowen.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was much younger, beginning in high school, I was a visual artist, painting mainly with oils and acrylics. Often I worked in a surreal style for both landscapes and portraits. Controlling brush strokes and lines was crucial. Two years ago, when I took lessons at the Art Center East, I found switching to an acrylic pour genre both fascinating and scary. Pouring paint allowed the Unknown to take over the canvas. And yet, after completing two courses, I began to see the process as more akin to life itself: We often must give up control. The process inspired me to write this poem for Acrylic Pour instructor Theresa Henderson.

lindsey-en-route-colorado-aug-2014ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pushcart and Pulitzer nominee Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s fourth poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017), contains a poem named an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 85th Contest. Her third, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison, won Kansas Authors Club’s 2017 “Looks Like a Million” Contest, and was a finalist in the QuillsEdge Press 2015-2016 Contest. Her Inside Virgil’s Garage (Chatter House) was a runner-up in the 2015 Nelson Poetry Book Award. McClatchy Newspapers named her Standing on the Edge of the World  (Woodley Press) one of Ten Top Poetry Books of 2008. Her poems have appeared in New LettersI-70 ReviewThorny LocustFlint Hills ReviewSilver Birch Press, Amethyst ArsenicCoal City ReviewPhantom DriftEkphrastic Review (Egyptian Challenge), The Same, Tittynope ZineBare Root Review Rockhurst Review, Black Bear Review, 14 anthologies, and other lit zines. Three of her seven novels have been published. Poetry is her way of singing. She taught writing and literature at UMKC for 18 years, MCC-Longview, and teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and other criminal justice classes for Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Oregon. Visit her on Facebook.