Archives for posts with tag: paintings

A Phone Call
by Anne Born

I remember the hushed phone call.
My study-abroad daughter calling me in New York
From Gallery 12 at the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Mom. There’s a tour guide here.
He’s very proud.
He’s telling people that this painting here
Is the greatest painting in the world,
By the greatest artist in the world.
Is it?

And that this museum is
The greatest museum on the world.
Is it?

I thought for a moment.
That painting, Velázquez’s Las Meninas.
It is absolutely the greatest painting in the world.

What about the museum?
Am I in the greatest museum in the world?

I thought for a moment.

I have been to the Louvre, the Met, the Art Institute,
All of the Smithsonian, the British Museum, the Uffizi.
It is the greatest museum in the world.

Thanks, mom.
I love you.
I love you too.

My sweet girl had picked up and gone
To an art museum,
And she was standing in front of the greatest painting by the greatest artist in the greatest museum in the world
And she thought to call me.
That’s what I remember.

PAINTING:  Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez (1656), Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.


 NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Memory is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s the small details you think about and not the event itself. You should think about the time you went to Paris or Rome and saw cathedrals and cafes and galleries, but all you think about is that you ran out of toothpaste, got on the wrong train, or brought the wrong shoes. Here, the call did force me to assess what I knew about museums and paintings and artists, but the real story to me was that, in the moment, she wanted to know what I thought too. It’s a marvelous thing when your children experience the places you love.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I took this photo at the Prado — when the guard wasn’t looking. I love watching people take in the art. (Gallery 12, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Photo credit: Anne Born, August 17, 2022.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Born is an award-winning author and photographer based in Michigan. A published poet, essayist, and travel writer, she is currently collaborating on a short documentary film about her book on one of the great cathedrals in Spain, If You Stand Here: A Pilgrim’s Tour of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Her photographs of the Camino de Santiago and views of New York are available on Redbubble (@nilesite), and her books can be ordered from Amazon, or your favorite independent bookseller.

by Sheikha A.

for and after Saad Ali

after The Changing Light by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

We could be a billion galaxies,
undiscovered and untouched—

method of existence—a stray
particle in vibrant design of dust.

And when the cities come alight
beneath mediocre blankets of stars,

we could hold gravity in our hands
like the sum weight of our limitations;

of the space in time humans call
waiting, we’d be far ahead in living

after a cycle of deaths that burst
out of our eyes—rims of eclipses—

floating clouds of shimmering gas—
belts of shards like the rays of sun.

And when the cities would sleep,
we could be free like an unspoken

notion—imploding solar plexus—
like the book that was never written;

and we could swirl our radius broad,
stretch to thin, opaque eternity;

and we could be the hanging ocean,
our crust a hollow dense of rippling

shimmer. We could be yet not be,
mote or mute—waves of vibrant dust.

PAINTING: Galaxy by Natalia Dumitresco (1959).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came about after an interesting conversation I had with a poet/writer named Saad Ali on the concepts of reincarnation and the nuances of an afterlife, if whether it were just one place, or if it were a dimension of incarnate time, or a choice of existing in any form desired and elected by us, or if whether it existed at all. Almost in tandem, I chanced upon Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “The Changing Light,” and with the conversation fresh in my mind, I began to read the poem through a variable outlook and was able to resonate with the poem not just for its physical presence, but perhaps a meditative state of observation from memory, like existing physically in one place whilst ethereally elsewhere, much like our fantasies of the afterlife.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent publications have included Strange Horizons, Pedestal Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Silver Birch Press, Abyss and Apex. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Albanian, Italian, Arabic, Polish, and Persian. She is the co-author of a digital poetry chapbook entitled Nyctophiliac Confessions available through Praxis Magazine. More about her published works can be found at

Out, Alone
by Maria Nestorides

It’s a balmy spring afternoon
and I’m on my way to the craft shop
where I’ve booked a class
to make a heart-shaped wreath for my wall.
And I am still waiting…

I park my car wherever I find a spot,
but this is New York City, and
I need a good five minutes to walk to the shop.
A group of young men are huddled together
outside a shop, laughing and joking.
Ask any woman you know. These men
could be as harmless as a bee in the middle
of the ocean, but
to a lone woman, a group of men being loud
and raucous is a clear and present danger.
And I am still waiting…

Alert sounds scream in my mind,
my flight or fight signals are going crazy.
Adrenaline rushes through my body,
preparing me to do whatever I need to do—fast.
Are my trousers too tight? Is my top too revealing?
If I cross the road to the other side will I provoke them?
If I stay on the same side of the road, will I provoke them?
If I look at them, will I provoke them?
If I don’t look at them, will I provoke them?
Why didn’t I buy a can of pepper spray?
And I am still waiting…

I clutch my car keys between my knuckles
with the metal jutting out, ready to attack,
if I need to. Silly, I know. What chance
would I stand against a bunch of men?
I pass them by, and exhale sharply
in relief as they don’t even seem to notice
I exist. It looks like I’ll be making that
heart-shaped wreath after all.
Others have not been as lucky.
Others have not lived
to write about their experience.
#notallmen are the same but I am
still waiting for the day
when all women can walk free,
when they can do so without fear.

PAINTING: Walking Woman by Balcomb Greene (1949). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after reading about the recent kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard in London, as she walked home after visiting a friend. Rest in Peace, Sarah and all other “Sarahs.” May you be the last to have to suffer like this.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maria Nestorides lives in sunny Cyprus. She is married and has two adult children. She has an MA in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her short stories have appeared in Silver Birch Press, The Sunlight Press, The Story Shack, Inkitt  and she has also contributed a six-word memoir to the book Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure, by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser (Jan 6, 2009). You can visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

Waiting Out the Wind with Grackles
by Jessica Purdy

The wind that frightens me now
will quiet. So will the hours
spent waiting at the height
of fight or flight that do no good at all.

All those times you panicked
before crossing a bridge
or going through a tunnel have gone.
Your mother’s dying took years.

Now she comes to me in dreams
still alive and just the same
as she was, only now she’s
a piece that won’t fit this life’s puzzle.

I’ve packaged winter in a ziplock bag.
It leaves an imprint of toasted
bread and butter. Leftovers
and vestiges. The black

wings of a plague of grackles fling
up from the trees like a magician’s
sprung deck of cards.
They spin like a van Gogh sky
encircling the map of the world.

The wind made visible, they tilt and shift,
until their wings fold and their feet grip
the grass. Their squabble
of squeaks in chorus
sound for all the world like a warning
masked as exaltation.

And then I notice red-winged blackbirds too,
their epaulettes distinctive in the crowd.

I stand at the doorway looking out.
It’s for these inevitable
disappearances I am still waiting.

PAINTING: Grackles and Angus by Jamie Wyeth (1974).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I had been reading Galway Kinnell’s poem “Wait” when I saw the prompt for this series. The line in his poem: “Only wait a little and listen” gave me comfort. The lament in Ferlinghetti’s poem is borne of frustration and impatience with the world’s injustices, and I felt that too, while writing. Ultimately, comfort is what I am waiting for in this poem. The grackles experience of the wind was the opposite of mine. They embodied it, while I cowered. I found myself hoping for the fear to pass, but in the meantime previous and future traumas kept appearing. Like any strong emotion, the wind did eventually die down.

Bio pic for Telephone Game

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Purdy teaches Poetry Workshops at Southern New Hampshire University. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her poems and reviews have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Gargoyle, gravel, The Plath Poetry Project, The Ekphrastic Review, The Light Ekphrastic, SurVision, The Wild Word, isacoustic, Nixes Mate Review, Bluestem, The Telephone Game, and Silver Birch Press, among others. Her chapbook, Learning the Names, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. Her books STARLAND and Sleep in a Strange House were both released by Nixes Mate Books consecutively, in 2017 and 2018. Visit her at

carousel by the sea
Youth’s Dumb Green Fields Come Back Again
by Carole Johnston

An Homage to Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am waiting

for the fog of constant sorrow to lift

for crows to convene in my house muttering
dirges like foggy old men

for my guardian angel to flap her
crow wings and soar through my dreams

I am still waiting

for “Hologram Girl” to jump off my pages and find all the
lost dream words

for words bursting from trees to blossom themselves into silver

for silver stallions to canter off the carousel whinnying prayers to
the sea

for manic dawn to crack the prayers of madness

for the old mad Madonna to bless us with forgiveness

to float in forgiveness until we forgive ourselves

to free ourselves from everything but flowers

I am waiting to be free 

PAINTING: Carousel by the Sea by Clarence Holbrook Carter (1979).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I carried A Coney Island of the Mind  around with me throughout my freshman year of college, and the poem “I Am Waiting” has been in and out of my consciousness since that halcyon time of my youth. Wondering what I am really “waiting” for evoked images and personal metaphors. In this poem, I have attempted to invoke Ferlinghetti’s tone of whimsical sadness. Many more lines came to me, but the pattern of the poem seemed to lock itself in and be finished. The pattern of repeating one word from each of the preceding lines caused the poem to write itself in images and led me to realize that forgiveness is what I am really waiting for. Aren’t we all?

Johnston. jpg

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carole Johnston is a poet and retired creative writing teacher living in Lexington, Kentucky.  She has published three volumes of poetry: Journeys—Getting Lost, Manic Dawn, and Purple Ink—A Childhood in Tanka. She has become devoted to reading and writing Japanese short-form poetry, mainly haiku and tanka, and has published poems in Frog Pond, Blithe Spirit, Atlas Poetica, Red Lights, Cattails Journal of the United Haiku and Tanka Society, Akitsu Quarterly, Skylark Tanka Journal, Hedgerow, Moonbathing Journal of Women’s Tanka, and various other journals. After 18 years of teaching creative writing/literary arts at the School For Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Kentucky, Carole now teaches poetry and fiction to young children at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. She believes that her purpose in life is to surround children with poetry and inspire them to write.

illuminated shadows
By Candlelight
by Maura High
After hearing a recording of Peter Pears singing Britten’s “Dirge”

If all I want is light,
I could switch on electric,
but a candle is for expectations,

is preparation, calibrator
of hope and waiting.

And what I have is dark green, scented.
The flame bobs and flows
in the draft. I might have said

lonely, the lone light
in a dark room, but it has already

summoned familiars,
the only ones to come
indoors, this side of the windows.

Here, with their lanterns
and candlesticks and tapers,
stubs and pillars, their beeswax,

paraffin wax, dyes and perfumes.
One carries a tray of lit votives.

Another, a cake on fire.
The child asks, Why
must we blow them out? Why

just one breath?
Why must a wish be secret?

A man takes a candle from his kitbag
and the waterproof, screw-top canister
of matches, strikes one, and the cave

comes back, and the ledge
where we were sitting. Water drips,

breath fogs the air.
My grandmother rummages in a drawer
for one of the kitchen candles,

to keep me safe while she checks
the fuse box under the stairs, or finds

a florin for the meter. In the dark,
patient, I am still waiting.
Where does flame go? What

does she wish when she blows it out?
A wish is always for the end of waiting.

PAINTING: Illuminated shadows by Chronis Botsoglou.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love words! I make my living from them, read them, write them. My poems usually begin with some kind of verbalization, some kind of naming, and spin out from there. I try to extend beyond the naming, by exploring the subject from many angles and into many directions, often from and into the social and environmental implications of the initial perception.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maura High was born in Wales. As a child, she moved with her family from country to country, and then taught in secondary schools in Nigeria before emigrating to the United States. She now lives and works, as an editor and translator, in North Carolina. A chapbook, The Garden of Persuasions, was published by Jacar Press, and other poems have appeared in online and print journals and anthologies. Visit her at

The end of it
by Andy MacGregor

Nothing in the end of it
prepared me for the beginning:

not the fire in the street
or the unexpected calm

as your last reproachful glance
sent me back to that first time

on the bus going north
when you laid your head

on my shoulder and I felt
that thrill, a vibration,

not knowing if it was you
or me, or just the miles

vanishing beneath us
into the unseen distance.

Then there was that night
when, out of nowhere,

you went on and on
obscurely about the past

being always present—
how every moment

is that one original
instant of creation

still unfolding endlessly,
but showing a different face.

I listened dutifully of course
while my tea grew cold

and the evening yawned
blackly outside the window.

No doubt it’s as true now
as it was all that time ago:

there among the shining stars
are some that no longer exist

but as an ever-expanding wave
from a hollow centre,

and here I am still waiting
for the world to begin.

PAINTING: To the Morning Star by Mordecai Ardon (1968).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poetry is mostly inspired by nature and science, and often takes a philosophical turn whether I want it to or not. Themes of (mostly doomed) romance have a habit of imposing themselves too. This poem is no exception.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andy MacGregor is an ecologist and philosopher living in Glasgow, Scotland, where he spends his free time writing poems, playing classical guitar, and being mocked mercilessly by his two teenage children. His poems have been published by Black Bough Poetry and otherwise appear almost daily on his Twitter account @macgregor_andy.

Writing Process
by James Penha

Below the computer desk the dog
has rested his head for a nap
on my bare foot. I want to get up
for another cup of coffee, but
how can I disturb the sleep of this
loyal, loving thing in my life?
my life of trying to be of use,
to be kind, to be supportive even
when discomforted, and so I began
this poem and will keep at it—
adding, cutting, revising, editing
until the dog detaches from my toes
and makes his way to his own bed
or his bowl for a drink of water.
I am still waiting.
Ah, there!

PAINTING: Seated Man with Dog by Nathan Oliveira (1957)


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem is, in itself, about the creative process of the poem. Dare we label it… meta? Cappucino is the name of my toy poodle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past three decades in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his work has lately appeared in several anthologies: Home Is Where You Queer Your Heart, Pages Penned in Pandemic, The Impossible Beast: Queer Erotic Poems, The View From Olympia, Queers Who Don’t Quit, What We Talk About It When We Talk About It, Headcase, Lovejets, and What Remains. His essays have appeared in The New York Daily News and The New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha.

horizon john miller
Carry Yourself Back
by Thomas Zampino

Yesterday’s dreams, a child’s enthusiasm, a feigned willingness to suspend today’s disbelief.

The years in between have whispered seductive lies.

Distractions may have dulled your pain, loneliness has warped your body.

Only the nighttime cradles your brokenness, and dreams best measure your losses.

The horizon seems farther away from where you began.

I have never once stopped waiting for you.

I am still waiting.

PAINTING: Horizon by John Miller.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was created while reflecting on some of my family’s losses over the years, yet I have always remained hopeful!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Zampino is a New York City lawyer. His poems have appeared in Bard’s Annual 2019, Bard’s Annual 2020, Trees in a Garden of Ashes (2020), Otherwise Engaged (2020 and 2021), Chaos, A Poetry Vortex (2020), Nassau County Voices in Verse (2020), twice in Verse-Virtual (an on-line anthology), and in a video production of his poem “Precise Moment” by Brazilian actor Gui Agustini. Visit him at

I Am Still Waiting for Green Mornings
by Carol A. Stephen

I woke this morning to snow on the dwarf
spruce, small dustings on its branches, lovely
come December, but it’s April now.

Last summer was too hot for green, while autumn
was a bold blur of red, yellow, orange, until lockdown
washed all colour from the world.

I am still waiting for those green mornings, for unpremeditated
rapture, for Perpetual Wonder, and for animals to fall like rain
in a painted tangle of green in Mikhail Vrubel’s Morning.

But now, everyone runs in place; I run in circles, and we’re all
still waiting for the final “all-clear.” In the garden, lilacs are budding,
robins have returned, and along the Riverwalk, forest babies wait

for their next meal. White-tailed deer forage under the snow.
Herons, otters and mink dive in the river for fish. The ospreys are back
to their nest above the ball diamond on 9th line. And all of us, waiting.

PAINTING: Morning by Mikhail Vrubel (1897).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wanted to link back in some way to my poem from the I AM WAITING Series (Dec. 2014-January 2015), “Waiting for Green Mornings,” which was a found poem from Ferlinghetti’s “I Am Waiting.” I also wanted to acknowledge the waiting we all have been doing as we continue to wait out the pandemic. And yet, I couldn’t help but see that the natural world goes on, just as it always has. Spring has arrived, despite the snow this morning, and the local woods are full of animals, going on as usual.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen poetry appears in Poetry Is Dead, June 2017, and numerous print publications, including Wintergreen Studios chapbooks, Sound Me When I’m Done, and Teasing the Tongue. Online poems appear at Silver Birch Press, Topology Magazine, The Light Ekphrastic, and With Painted Words. Carol won Third prize in the CAA National Capital Writing Contest, and was featured in Tree’s Hot Ottawa Voices. She served on the board for Canadian Authors Association-NCR and co-directed Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series. Carol has five chapbooks, two released in 2018: Unhook, catkin press, Carleton Place, and Lost Silence of the Small, Local Gems Press, Long Island, New York  In 2019, Winning the Lottery, Surviving Clostridium Difficile was published by Crowe Currently, she is working on the manuscript for her first full-length poetry collection.