Archives for posts with tag: Artists

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How to Fly
by Lisa Alletson

Love the cliff face first.

Measure and weigh
the hands that shackle your ankles
holding you back.

Test the troposphere
with a snowdrop
sprung from your glow.

Leave out a bowl
of black holes
to consume gravity.

Inhale the sweetness
of the wet blade of grass
between you and freedom.

Build a pair of wings
out of tendons and memories
with your naked fingers.

The wings will stick
to your body at first —
low and frightened.

Towel them down
with your childhood blanket
to soak up burdens.

Don’t forget
to take your children —
past and future.

(They will know if you leave without them.)

Don’t forget your strength.
Never forget your strength.

Let go.

IMAGE: Les Oiseaux (The Birds), silkscreen by Henri Matisse (1947).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Alletson writes poetry using stark imagery inspired by the political, geographic, and cultural features from her three childhood continents. Born in South Africa’s Cape and raised during apartheid, Alletson’s writing often includes elements of water and darkness in her exploration of grief, mental health, inequality, special needs parenting, and relationships. Her writing has been published in the Globe and Mail, the Bangalore Review, Dreamers, Blank Spaces, Fresh Voices, and Dodging the Rain. Her poems “A Passing Oryx” and “Spectrum” were selected by the League of Canadian Poets as Poem-of-the-Day for Poetry Pause. She writes daily on Twitter at @lotustongue.

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How to Clean Out Your Closet
by Allison B. Kelly

First, empty everything out.
Even (especially) the dust bunnies
scurrying in dark corners behind the dusty heels of those slingbacks
you just had to have.
Gently wipe down all surfaces.
Let her breathe.

Now, try everything on. Leave no item of clothing uninterrogated.
Ask, “What do you represent?”

Choose what to let go:

Slouchy suede boots that slump by mid-afternoon like your posture.
So what if they were expensive?
Give them away.
Give them the opportunity to be someone else’s treasure.

Sweaters with pills clinging like unwanted hitchhikers,
Sweaters with three-quarter length sleeves.
If the temperature demands a sweater, your arms deserve warmth too.

Those heels that pinch? That cocktail party dress?
Anything too tight.
“But if I just lost five pounds…”
No.
Life is too short for constricting relationships.

The shirt you “keep meaning to” iron.
Actually, anything containing the phrase “keep meaning to.”

Let go of the sensible pumps. No one’s life goal is to be sensible.

The dry clean only blouse accidentally thrown in the wash.
Let it go.
Let go of mistakes.

Clothes that symbolize ambition and anxiety
don’t fit you anymore.

Choose what to keep:

That navy blue turtleneck looks good with everything.
Choose wardrobe pieces that play well with others.

Keep the pants, their deep cabernet color rich with capaciousness and imagination.
Keep the black and white loafers whose syncopated footsteps sound like dancing.

And the sweater with whimsical threads hanging carefree who asks, “What’s possible?”

Keep the fringed jean jacket
(even if it’s impractical and you rarely wear it)
because the sound of your swishing sleeves
gives you the confidence of a cowgirl.

Edit your wardrobe the way you edit the narrative of your life.
Find the things that are important to keep.

IMAGE: Coat Hanger II by Jasper Johns (lithograph, 1960).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Writing is one of my creative outlets. For me, the fun is not just telling a story but considering how our stories might be connected. In the beginning, it starts with an idea. Or maybe several scraps of ideas scribbled on sticky notes on my otherwise organized desk. The paper is a place for my rambling, scattered thoughts. They roll around on the page where I can see them. Gradually ideas take shape, growing and developing. I choose my words carefully — pretty ones, sweet ones, feeling the words on my tongue before they touch the page. That one is bitter. This one tastes like childhood. Soon I have lost track of time, giddy with excitement as my thoughts come together like a puzzle, until finally I lock the last piece into place. When I share my writing, I share a part of myself. Maybe something I wrote made you think or laugh out loud. Maybe you learned something new or found we have something in common.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Allison B. Kelly is the author of the memoir-in-essays There’s Spaghetti on My Ceiling: And Other Confessions of a Reformed Perfectionist and blogs at Pretending I’m Retired. She is an elementary school teacher with a master’s degree in education and endorsements in gifted education and ESL. She’s an early riser and list maker who survived raising two teenagers while keeping sane by running, traveling, and cleaning out her closets. Allison lives in Virginia with her family.

PHOTO: The author at Waterman’s Way, a public art installation of oversized boots celebrating the footwear worn by seafood workers in Chesapeake Bay. In the art installation, each sculpture was personalized by a local artist, drawing from themes that reflect the lives of the people who work the water, harvesting crabs, oysters, and fish from the Bay, rivers, and creek. Pictured is Crabber’s Paradise by David Witbeck. The exhibit ran from July 2017-August 2018.

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Pharmacist
by Joan McNerney

She thought of herself as a
modern alchemist. Fluent
in an arcane language
about the composition of so
many minute capsules.

The rest of the store could
be in a gas station or bargain
store. Filled with candies,
lipsticks, other frivolous items.

If you simply had a cough, syrup
could be found on aisle three.
Her area was sacred to patients,
those with serious ailments.

Filling prescriptions navigating
insurance companies, seeking
authorizations. Always aware of
side effects, multiple drug reactions,
possible allergic problems.

Austere yet approachable,
she dispensed heroic potions
from her prized domain
as chemical priestess.

IMAGE: University of Vienna ceiling paintings (Medicine), detail showing Hygeia, goddess of health, by Gustav Klimt (c. 1900-1907).

NOTE: In Greek as well as Roman mythology, Hygeia was one of the Asclepiadae—the sons and daughters of the god of medicine, Asclepius, and his wife Epione. Hygeia was the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and hygiene.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Quite a while ago I decided to write about people at work. Particularly during the pandemic, we should be grateful to these essential workers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines, such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days, as well as in four Bright Hills Press anthologies, several editions of the  Poppy Road Review, and numerous Spectrum Publications. She has four Best of the Net nominations. Her latest title, The Muse In Miniature, is available on Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net.

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Gravity Grateful
by Mark Blickley

Looking down from high places doesn’t bother me at all but when I have to look up at things, like buildings, it makes me nervous cause it feels like some kind of force like a magnet or something is going to pull me up and lift me off the ground which is a lot worse than falling ’cause if you’re falling down you know you’re falling and that’s that but if you get pulled off the ground and lifted into the air you’re not falling, but you could fall at any moment, and there’s no end because if you fall you have to land, but if you’re lifted up it could go on forever and I hate that.

Photo of Dalí Theatre-Museum (Figueres, Catalonia, Spain) by the author (January 2020).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This past January I visited Barcelona, Spain, with my daughter Deirdre. We rented a car and decided to take a side trip to the Salvador Dalí museum at Figueres, Spain. After viewing the inside of this exquisite museum, I focused on its exterior structure. The photo that appears with my poem is my looking up at a detail of this magnificent building. When we returned to Barcelona, I obsessed over this photo, which resulted in my writing a surreal-tinged prose poem, “Gravity Grateful.”

PHOTO: Dalí Theatre-Museum, Figueres, Spain by Taras Verkhovynets, used by permission.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Blickley is a widely published author of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. His most recent book is his text-based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams.

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Masquerade
by Barbara Bald

Reams of silken material, cascading to the floor,
encased her young body in black-velvet elegance,
enveloped her in a coat lined with white rabbit fur,
soft and alluring.

I remember how its hood encircled her masked face,
long, curled eyelashes glued to eyeholes,
immovable, but inviting.

Her black gloves, cedar-scented from the attic chest,
flicked a rhinestone-studded cigarette holder,
flashed a fake emerald ring.
With her pinky poised in the air,
her jewels captured porch-light glare
as we trick-or-treated our way through the neighborhood.

I remember her stories about how she’d worn the coat
to nightclub gigs, where,
refusing spiked Shirley Temples,
she had danced in sequined heels,
steeled herself against grabbing hands,
smiled through a different kind of disguise.

This night she was a make-believe lady of the evening.
This night she was the mother who held my tiny hand
and carried a bulging bag of candy.

Looking back, I can forgive her
for unbounded love she could not offer.
Years later, I have come to understand
why she lived behind a mask
she could not remove.

Previously published in the author’s collection Drive-Through Window.

PAINTING: “Madame X” by John Singer Sargent (1884).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There were many masks worn throughout my childhood — those worn on Halloween, those of the Lone Ranger and Zorro, Ben Casey and Doctor Kildare, those we hid behind as teenagers, even those worn by adults trying to hide something too scary to face. I believe most masks are worn to protect somebody. Unfortunately, sometimes the disguise can rob both parties of a chance for intimacy. My poem strives to convey that possibility.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant, and freelance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies and her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. She has two full-length books, Drive-Through Window and Other Voices/Other Lives. Her chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. She has written articles for Heart of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Magazine, and other local publications. She lives in Alton, NH, with her cat Catcher and some very personable goldfish.

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ABOUT THE CREATORS: New York interdisciplinary artist Amy Bassin and writer Mark Blickley work together on text-based art collaborations and videos. They recently published a text-based art book, Dream Streams (Clare Songbird Publishing House). Bassin is co-founder of the international artists cooperative, Urban Dialogues. Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. Their video collaborations, “Speaking in Bootongue” and “Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death,” represent the United States in the year-long international world tour of Time Is Love: Universal Feelings: Myths & Conjunctions. In May 2020,  screenings kicked off in Madrid, organized by the esteemed African curator, Kisito Assangni.

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Love Poem from a Distance
by Carol Alena Aronoff

My lips are sealed, swathed
in gauze veils, a treasury of
the unspoken. My blue nitrile
hands cling to each other as
tightly as limpets, a reminder
to keep my distance. Yet, these
hands want to roam, follow
the animal in my fingers, touch
all the wild places, hearts of
palm, your heart.

You stand at the open door,
your cloaked voice, a sonnet.
I shelter in place, stop my feet
from drawing near. My face
wears a mask of mourning
but my eyes will not surrender
to exile, will never accept any
quarantine. Even if that’s all
you see of me, you will still
know my love.

IMAGE: “The Kiss” by Pablo Picasso (1969).  Prints available at RedBubble.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was thinking about the loss of intimacy for so many people during this time of exile and quarantine, and tried to place myself in their shoes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist, teacher, and poet. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and has won several prizes. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Carol has published two chapbooks (Cornsilk and Tapestry of Secrets) and six full-length poetry collections: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings From an Unseen World, Dreaming Earths Body (with artist Betsie Miller-Kusz), as well as The Gift of Not Finding: Poems for Meditation (forthcoming).

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Red Bandana
by Nancy Wheaton

During the month of March I lost track of the days.
Once I dreamt I was walking the desolate landscape
inside Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory.”
Amid the drooping clocks, I explored the mountains with the ants.
In April and May, people were making and donating masks
from scraps of material.
Shopping became a way of acknowledging
that we are creative and kind.
A most touching scene was in Rite Aid,
where an elderly woman waited patiently,
wearing a Grateful Dead mask,
while the gentleman in front of her listened
to an explanation of the possible side effects of Viagra,
as he was a first-time user.
He wore a red bandana as a mask.

PAINTING: “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali (1931).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy Wheaton lives and writes on the New England seacoast, which is now barricaded with police tape.  She walks on nearly empty streets through town, exploring new neighborhoods.  Out of stillness, she hears piano pieces being practiced and guitar solos.  She has named two chipmunks “Cheeks” and “Gordy” because they share the droppings from the feeder with the cardinals every day.

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    Maintaining Distance
    by Stephen Thomas Roberts
poem
PAINTING: “The Kiss” by Charles Blackman (1962).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wanted to write a poem about wearing a mask without using the word mask.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Thomas Roberts is a Yale Law School graduate and poet. His work has appeared, or will appear, in Poetry Salzburg Review,  The Worcester Review, TRINACRIA, Third Wednesday, Blue Unicorn, The Ocean State Review, The Cape Rock, MagnaPoets, The Tishman Review, and Gargoyle. He resides in Dutchess County with his wife. These days he works from home.

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Between Heartbreak and Rage
by Patrice Boyer Claeys

Sometimes I wake up wrong
             breathing hard
                         because in sleep
                                     I dream a world
face to face with blankness that
smells like masks.

Sometimes my eyes feel like loaded guns

            which both flare up and freeze—
                         something about our helplessness
            presses down on me like an iron.

            *

As I breathe,
            blood red
creature within creature
moves over the world.

CENTO SOURCES: Ross Gay, Owen McLeod, Cory Hutchinson-Reuss, Haro Lee, Langston Hughes, Louise Gluck, Christopher Pressfield, Rick Bursky, Will Alexander, David Ferry, Tara E. Jay, Eva Heisler, Xiaoly Li, Don Bogen, Robert Adamson

PAINTING: “The Actor’s Mask” by Paul Klee (1924).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Derived from the Latin word for “patchwork,” cento originally referred to the cloaks worn by Roman soldiers. Today it refers to poems composed of written fragments. I create centos using single lines from a multitude of other poems. I’m drawn to this form by the sparks that ignite when removed lines bump up against one another in a new context. I also find that the collage technique allows me to more courageously investigate frightening topics, such as the pandemic, while at the same time feel supported by the many voices enlisted to create the new piece.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrice Boyer Claeys is the author of two poetry collections, The Machinery of Grace and Lovely Daughter of the Shattering. Recent work has appeared in Zone 3, Glassworks, Literary Mama, Pirene’s Fountain and Aeolian Harp Anthology. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net. Find her online at patriceboyerclaeys.com.