Archives for posts with tag: illustration

A Dog in Space
by Lillian Nećakov 

I am still

lost in the flesh of a word
that once draped herself over
the tongues of those who
loved me

I am still

for the skinny boy with hands
gentle as snow
whose laughter hula hooped
the saints and seas

I am still

muscle lazy as mud
to be ferried past Galileo’s grooves
while the earth curves her back
against the un-dogged nebula

I am still

past the blush of horizon
heart jackhammering against
g-force mongrel mother
orbiting my own eulogy
barked through the November streets
by dusty mutts
on the heels of extinction
past the moonbeam filament

I am still

in the flesh of a word
in the gutter of a prayer
in the underside
of a song.

ILLUSTRATION: Laika by Phineas X. Jones.

laika 11 phineas jones

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Laika, a stray from the streets of Moscow, occupied the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 launched into outer space on November 3, 1957. The first animal to orbit Earth, she did not survive the mission—a topic of ongoing discussion. 

ILLUSTRATION: Laika by Phineas X. Jones.

IMG_1275 (2) (1)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lillian Nećakov is the author of six books of poetry, numerous chapbooks, broadsides and leaflets. Her book il virus (a Feed Dog Book) was published by Anvil Press in April 2021. During the 1980s, she ran a micro press called “The Surrealist Poets Gardening Association” and sold her books on Toronto’s Yonge Street. She ran the Boneshaker Reading series from 2010-2020. She lives in Toronto and just might be working on a new book.

by Kerfe Roig

What looks back? An outline, an ear, a nose? Where is the mouth? Emotions ride the eyes in waves over the barrier between inside and out.
to balance
breath with invisibility
The atmosphere is unsettled. Who (e)merges, from and with, behind, between?
This face: who does it belong to? It appears liquid, fractured like a mirrored jewel, shimmering with unnamable currents, transformed by filtered light. Both distorted and reflected.
disembodied words
search for certainty—was it
ever really there?

Roig 2

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I look in the mirror to adjust my mask, I barely recognize my face, especially with my sweatshirt hood pulled up. And it feels strange to go outside among mostly masked people who avoid even looking at each other as they hurry past. My first forays out were always in drizzle or right after it had rained. The face in puddles was even more alien than that of the one in the mirror.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerfe Roig lives and works in New York City, where she plays with images and words and blogs about it at

Illustrations by the author. 

The Runaway (Twelfth)
by Emily Mischel

“Have you indeed the courage to go with me into the wide world?” asked the chimney sweep. “Have you thought how large it is, and that we may never return?”
— The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep by Hans Christian Anderson

In the cabinet among the other
figurines of porcelain
     here we are small.
But in the wide world, (up the black black chimney)
the one you want us to run away to,
     we would only get smaller. Can I go with you?

The forced betrothal of a pure girl (such as myself)
to a far away emperor is simply historical canon and
I would find company in the memories of the wives of Genghis Khan,
locked in the Glass Cabinet with 11 other wives.
My father even thinks he has more treasures hidden in the drawers below
that only I (as his favorite) would get to see, If I were to remain.

If I do not follow you, I’m just another child bride
another statistic, another rights violation. So this
“Freedom” awaits up the tunnel of soot.
I would have run weeks ago, but I waited up, for you
said you’d gone up this chimney hundreds of times. Why do you drag your feet so?

My gown is soiled, but I made my choice.
I can still hear the shrieking of the china wives.
“Foolish girl” they say “he will break your heart!”
Is that really the worst that can happen?
If so, I have less to fear from those shimmering bits of glass,
tucked in blankets of blue, just above us.
They seem to be as close and as far as you are, my love.

The houses flash from blue to green in sporadic bursts of starlight
Your embrace shatters my arm. (I thought you’d been here before)
This world is too big. Too turbulent,
can’t you see?
     Sickness hangs from the balconies.
The buildings push and shove each other,
     each trying to get a better look at
          the well presented and walled off wilderness reserve.

You said I’d be free here.

That’s like saying
                    we’re safe on top of this chimney whilst
                    a fire burns below us.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem began as an ekphrasis poem inspired by illustrations from antique Anderson’s Fairytales books. It is part of a project that became my undergraduate creative writing thesis, Don’t Fear The Beasts: A Poetic Reimagining of Anderson’s Fairytales. I sought to retell the stories in the form of a poem. In this way, I could reinvent the fairytales – make them more modern, while also engaging with them as a study of what makes these stories still relevant.

IMAGE: “The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep” by Mabel Lucie Attwell (1920s).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emily Mischel is a Los-Angeles-based writer, a daydreamer, and a recent graduate. When not looking for her muse, Emily runs her online clothing shop, Vintage Dinosaur Shop, and adds to her to-do list.

by Edward Lear

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,
‘Good gracious! how you hop!
Over the fields and the water too,
As if you never would stop!
My life is a bore in this nasty pond,
And I long to go out in the world beyond!
I wish I could hop like you!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

‘Please give me a ride on your back!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.
‘I would sit quite still, and say nothing but “Quack,”
The whole of the long day through!
And we’d go to the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee,
Over the land, and over the sea;—
Please take me a ride! O do!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

Said the Kangaroo to the Duck,
‘This requires some little reflection;
Perhaps on the whole it might bring me luck,
And there seems but one objection,
Which is, if you’ll let me speak so bold,
Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold,
And would probably give me the roo-
Matiz!’ said the Kangaroo.

Said the Duck, ‘As I sate on the rocks,
I have thought over that completely,
And I bought four pairs of worsted socks
Which fit my web-feet neatly.
And to keep out the cold I’ve bought a cloak,
And every day a cigar I’ll smoke,
All to follow my own dear true
Love of a Kangaroo!’

Said the Kangaroo, ‘I’m ready!
All in the moonlight pale;
But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady!
And quite at the end of my tail!’
So away they went with a hop and a bound,
And they hopped the whole world three times round;
And who so happy,—O who,
As the Duck and the Kangaroo?

SOURCE: Lear’s Nonsense Drolleries (1889), available free at

DRAWING: “Duck and Kangaroo” by William Foster from original text.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Edward Lear (1812–1888) was an English artist, illustrator, author and poet, and is known now mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form he popularized. His principal areas of work as an artist were as a draughtsman employed to illustrate birds and animals, making colored drawings during his journeys, and as an illustrator of Alfred Tennyson’s poems. As an author, he is known principally for his popular nonsense works, which use real and invented English words. His most famous poem is “The Owl and the Pussycat.”

by Phillis Levin

Under a cherry tree
I found a robin’s egg,
broken, but not shattered.

I had been thinking of you,
and was kneeling in the grass
among fallen blossoms

when I saw it: a blue scrap,
a delicate toy, as light
as confetti

It didn’t seem real,
but nature will do such things
from time to time.

I looked inside:
it was glistening, hollow,
a perfect shell

except for the missing crown,
which made it possible
to look inside.

What had been there
is gone now
and lives in my heart

where, periodically,
it opens up its wings,
tearing me apart.

SOURCE: “End of April” appears in Phillis Levin’s collection The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), available at

ILLUSTRATION: “Opus No. 122″ by Kazue Shima


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phillis Levin is the author of four poetry collections, including May Day (Penguin, 2008), and editor of the Penguin Book of the Sonnet (Penguin, 2001). She teaches at Hofstra University.

Author photo by Sheila McKinnon

LOOK (Excerpt)
by Rumi

Look at the union of the
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox

you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled for you and me…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rumi (1207–1273) was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi’s importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described on a BBC program as the “most popular poet in America.” (Source:

ILLUSTRATION: “Vernal Equinox” by Rosalyn Stevenson. Prints available at

breathing bukowski
by dirk velvet

he used the smallest words
he could find
tell his
he knew that
the large ones
could get
going in
he knew
what we all
to live

SOURCE: “breathing bukowski” by dirk velvet appears in the Silver Birch Press Bukowski Anthology, available at

IMAGE: “Charles Bukowski” by Christopher R. Adams, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



Illustration and Text by Patterson Clark

(originally published 5/1/2012 in the Washington Post)

Not much point in looking around for a nearby nest when you find an American robin eggshell on the sidewalk.

Soon after a chick hatches, the female robin grabs the eggshell and flies off to drop it far from the nest. Leaving the baby behind for a few moments is worth the risk, since the bright white insides of the eggshell can attract predators.

But before the egg hatches, blue-green pigments on the outside surface of the egg might help with camouflage. Pigments might also strengthen the egg and help protect it from solar radiation.

A robin coats her eggs with the same turquoise-hued compound found in our bile and bruises, biliverdin, an important antioxidant. Female robins with higher concentrations of biliverdin in their tissue lay darker, more vividly colored eggs, which apparently sends a strong signal to males.

“Males seem to use egg color to gauge the quality of their mate and the eggs she lays, putting more effort into rearing babies when they are more likely to survive and prosper,” says Robert Montgomerie of Queen’s University in Canada.

With Philina English, Montgomerie determined that when eggs are more colorful, male robins will invest as much as twice the amount of energy helping feed nestlings.

SOURCES: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology; Bird Coloration: Function and Evolution; Stanford University

by Edward Gorey

When they answered the bell on that wild winter night,
There was no one expected – and no one in sight.
Then they saw something standing on top of an urn,
Whose peculiar appearance gave them quite a turn.
All at once it leapt down and ran into the hall,
Where it chose to remain with its nose to the wall.
It was seemingly deaf to whatever they said,
So at last they stopped screaming, and went off to bed.
It joined them at breakfast and presently ate
All the syrup and toast, and a part of a plate.
It wrenched off the horn from the new gramophone,
And could not be persuaded to leave it alone.
It betrayed a great liking for peering up flues,
And for peeling the soles of its white canvas shoes.
At times it would tear out whole chapters from books,
Or put roomfuls of pictures askew on their hooks.
Every Sunday it brooded and lay on the floor,
Inconveniently close to the drawing-room door.
Now and then it would vanish for hours from the scene,
But, alas, be discovered inside a tureen.
It was subject to fits of bewildering wrath,
During which it would hide all the towels from the bath.
In the night through the house it would aimlessly creep,
In spite of the fact of its being asleep.
It would carry off objects of which it grew fond,
And protect them by dropping them into the pond.
It came seventeen years ago – and to this day
It has shown no intention of going away.

© words and images by Edward Gorey 1957, 1985.

Find The Doubtful Guest by Edward Gorey at

TOTEM POEM (Excerpt)
by Luke Davies

In the yellow time of pollen near the blue time of lilacs
there was a gap in things. And here we are.
The sparrows flew away so fast a camera could not catch them.
The monkey swung between our arms and said I am, hooray,
the monkey of all events, the great gibbon of convergences.

…Read more of “Totem Poem” at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Luke Davies is a novelist, screenwriter, and essayist. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, he is the author of the poetry collections Four Plots for Magnets (1982), Absolute Event Horizon (1994), Running With Light (1999), Totem (2005), and Interferon Psalms (2011). Totem, a book of love poetry, received numerous awards in Australia, winning both an Age Poetry Book of the Year award and overall Age Book of the Year award, as well as the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry, the South Australian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry, and the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal. Davies’s semi-autobiographical novel Candy (1997) was made into a movie in 2006. His other novels include Isabelle the Navigator (2000) and God of Speed (2008).

ILLUSTRATION: “Lilac rabbit dreaming” by PatricianPrints. Prints available at