Archives for posts with tag: self portrait

Chagall_Blaue Zirkus
by Sheikha A. 

In many dissimulated moments
that went by without a cough, hiccup
or so much as a sneeze, all of the sparring
with the ‘within,’ during glorious mornings
to cacophonous nights of unserved reminisces;
the logics sliced with surgical precision,
held apart with clamps and pushed
through the within with amps and doses
of alternated steroids and sedatives
of utter lunacy;

the moments never lifting
like mists off of their grass, like water
condensing away from the lungs on leaves,
knowing the differential of smothering
versus nurturing –

like blotched epiphany,

such has been the count so far, up
till 31.7.

There has been no stretch on time,
the tenure that comprised the moments,
whether I lived in seconds or decades
within it; giving me no meter nor mile
on length or brevity of the days
I slaughtered, and the nights I censured
the stars for shedding their dead
fur on my grass whilst grooming partially

I have looked no deeper through the sky,
through thick clouds of curtains, yet I have
breathed you in, just as devoutly,
and exhale you now
as poetry –

as suborn to my wastefulness, impetuous
in knowledge your vanity will not demand
pacifications from me.

Yet I demand for loyalty
against 31.7 years of anonymity.

IMAGE: “Le Cirque Bleu” by Marc Chagall (1952).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. currently lives in Karachi, Pakistan after having moved from the United Arab Emirates and believes the transition has definitely stimulated a different tunnel of thought. With publication credits in magazines such as Red Fez, American Diversity Report, Open Road Review, Mad Swirl, Danse Macabre du Jour, Rose Red Review, The Penmen Review among many others, and several anthologies, she has also authored a poetry collection entitled Spaced, published by Hammer and Anvil Books, available on Kindle. She also edits poetry for eFiction India. Visit her blog

by Roz Levine

Because it takes only a tiny misstep
I check blankets for frayed wires
Examine feces for blood clots
Search for carjackers in my Honda
I sniff out gas leaks for toxic fumes
Scan the mall for kidnappers
Carry a whistle on dark streets
I map my breast for new lumps
Keep a packed bag on my nightstand
I’m always ready for an earthquake
Always on the lookout for death

IMAGE: “Umbrella Girl,” street art by Banksy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roz Levine is a Los Angeles poet who has written poems since the age of eight. When she retired several years ago, writing became her number one passion. Words have helped her navigate cancer and helped her maintain her sanity in a not-so-sane world. Her letters to the editor on issues of national and international interest have appeared frequently in both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Her poetry has appeared in a range of publications, including Cultural Weekly, Poetry Superhighway, Silver Birch Press, Pulse, The Sun, On The Bus, FRE&D, Forever in Love, Deliver Me, and The Juice Bar.

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher.

by Barbara Eknoian

See the little girl,
quiet and shy,
after a family blow-up,
warily observing
the grown-ups.
See the teenager
longing to be asked
to dance a slow number
with that handsome boy,
and then at sixteen
that she was looking her best
drifting in the rowboat
the world before her.
See the shy bride,
almost twenty-one,
marrying a little too soon,
she’s made the right choice.
See the young mom
moving across country
away from family
and dear friends,
and the young woman
back at school,
serving as editor
of the college paper,
then leaving to care
for her family.
See the woman
thrilled to celebrate
her 50th anniversary,
and now the widow
still longing
for the dance.

IMAGE: “Dancer Standing (study)” by Edgar Degas (1872).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Eknoian‘s work has appeared in Pearl, Chiron Review, RE)VERB, and Silver Birch Press’s Silver, Green, and Summer anthologies, and Cadence Collective on line. She has received two Pushcart Prize nominations and is a member of Donna Hilbert’s poetry workshop in Long Beach, California. Her first young adult novel Chances Are: A Jersey Girl Comes of Age, and her poetry book Why I Miss New Jersey are available at Amazon. She is currently working on a generational novel.

Written on the Eve of My 50th Birthday
(A slow, meaningful, early morning poem)
by Anthony Costello

after Gregory Corso

I am 49 Years Old.
I look my age. My hair is greying.
There is the emergence of jowls.
Blood vessels map the sides of my nose.
Have I always thought my nose big?
My lips have pretty much remained the same.
My eyes always surprise me. But then eyes
In everyone improve with age.
49 and divorced. No children. Is there time?
A girlfriend died and there my baby died.
I don’t act the fool no more — so I have few friends.
What happened to the old Anthony they say.
They don’t like it when I talk about body dysmorphia and dying.
They can all go to Glastonbury.
I have travelled half the world. Met thousands of people.
Most of them were good. Some of them were not.
I cried last year for the first time.
Imagine another 49 years?
I don’t want to cry this birthday.
I want to be an intellectual man on stage
Giving a lecture on literature.
And a leather chair at home.
Another year in which I did not lie.
3 years now and I have not lied
I have actually stopped lying! Well, I lie sometimes
And I feel shameless. I owe people money
But it’s easy to forget something like that.
49 years old and 3 self-published books of poetry.
The world owes me nothing and yet I think it should.
I have had a crazy 49 years.
‘And if it wasn’t up to me, none of it.
No choice of two roads; if there were,
I don’t doubt I’d have chosen both.’
I like to think fate had it I tipped the tin.
The answer lies in this immodest declaration:
I am a good example of soul. A priest
Once told me ‘The People are The Saints’.
I love poetry because it makes me love
myself and others more . . . it gives me life.
Of all the dreams that die in me
This one ‘burns like the sun’;
It might not make every day bearable
Or help me with people
Or improve my behaviour toward society
‘But it does tell me my soul has a shadow.’

IMAGE: “50 Candles” by Elizabeth Gadd, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anthony Costello’s poems have appeared most recently in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Shop, Orbis, English Chicago Review, and Acumen. The poems of Alain-Fournier, a collaboration with Anita Marsh and Anthony Howell, will be published by Anvil in 2015. The Mask, his first collection of poems, will be published in Fall 2014 by Lapwing Publications, Belfast.

ORPHIC CANTOS, 37. (Excerpt)
by Ivan Argüelles

satellite planets hovering on the rim of thought
white powder in which the dead recognize other souls
this the anti-earth of Persephone the thin lunar crevice
known as salvation for those that succeed in hanging on
a daimon resides in my head pushing sideways into inferno
legacy of ancient poetry untranslatable traces and dreams
of the other life where the elysian fields extend behind the moon
cold cataracts pour into gassy space the relics of the epic
I am if nothing else the stifling afternoon of Sicilian myth
fragments of rock and vegetation dried air volcanic ash
from which arise spectra shuddering from the noon blasts
pleading to have back some shred of shadow a small darkness
a daimon increases his infinite size within my aching brain
there are things my thumbs cannot know to touch that burn
without sensation of flame that contain forbidden metastases
echoes of the first death for those who undergo the second one
when I reemerged from the oracular furnace feet first
my body was radiant this the daimon’s irredeemable gift
who filled my mind with the voices of a thousandfold gods
in the lair of heat which is the chrysalis of the omniverse
how can a man ever return who has seen and be greeted
by household members as the same when he is polluted
infected by the miasma of being other the outsider?

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I once said I read everything I write and I write everything I read. I believe that inspiration is the one true process involved in the act of creating a poem, if that’s what you want to call it. I am a devotee of the Muse; she pulls me by the hair and makes me do it. No inhibitions. All worlds open, the galaxies are free fall, I embrace the cosmos as both chaotic and divine.

IMAGE: Roman floor mosaic depicting Orpheus surrounded by animals charmed by the music of his lyre. (SOURCE: Museo archeologico regionale di Palermo.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ivan Argüelles is a much-published, innovative poet. Frequently classified as a surrealist, his poetry overreaches that definition and he has pushed the envelope to epic proportions. A classicist by education, he continues exploring the so-called classical world, be it that of the Greco/Romans or that of India, in his constant experimentation with myth. Among his many books of poetry are: That Goddess; Madonna Septet (2 vols.); Comedy, Divine, The; The Death of Stalin; and Ars Poetica. He is currently working on a long series, Orphic Cantos. A Mexican-American, raised on both sides of the border, he is the identical twin of New Age prophet Jose Argüelles. A retired librarian, he resides in Berkeley, California.

by Elizabeth Jacobson

Is summer
on a painted bench
hair pulled back
lips pink
knees to her chest
the bony part browned
darker on the top.
Heat is fluid in her.
A bath running
birds in the yard sounding
like cats, like nursery rhymes;
clocks ticking.
Evening doesn’t end
pours from one open mouth
into the next
a syrup of days,
the past and future
at the same time all at once

SOURCE: “Girl” appears in Elizabeth Jacobson‘s collection Her Knees Pulled In (Tres Chicas Books, 2012), available at

IMAGE: “Little Girl with a Blue Jersey” by Berthe Morisot (1886).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Jacobson is the author of the poetry collection Her Knees Pulled In (Tres Chicas Books, 2012). She is the founding director of the WingSpanPoetry Project, which brings weekly poetry classes to the residents at the Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and creates poetry workshops for various programs at other local shelters. She has taught writing for over 25 years at colleges and elementary schools, in both New York and New Mexico — most recently with ArtWorks in Santa Fe. Elizabeth is the winner of the 2013 Mountain West Writer’s Contest from Western Humanities Review, the recipient ofthe Jim Sagel Prize for poetry from Puerto del Sol, and has an MFA from Columbia University. Visit her at

by Stephen Linsteadt

That first brush stroke on a blank canvas,
that great hesitation, where reason is abandoned
long enough to allow reflexes to have their way
and the brush to chose its own palette.

The fear lies in subsequent interpretations,
the lingering sense of judgment.

Brush strokes are vulnerable when left alone.

The temptation is to mould drops and splashes
into houses or trees, something conforming,
recognizable by an imaginary audience.

The art critics will want to write an article
causing me to regret I didn’t think of sheep
in tanks of formaldehyde
or giant purple poodles.

So I scrape out the childish scene of trees
with turpentine and a rag
and start over.

The blank canvas stretched over my ego
is stained by all my false starts.
It sits like a neon sign for the world to know
I was born without an original thought.

When I close my eyes and paint in the dark
the canvas fills with possibilities.

Brush strokes sing in fluid vermilion and crimson,
the stops and starts.

The delicate strokes and the heavy ones
keep time to the harmony of that moment,

and only that moment.

An unearthly chant rises from the surface
like jewels from a flood, receding imperceptively,
remaining only in my mind.

Another blank canvas is waiting.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  To fully engage in the creative process requires a complete surrender to thinking about it. One’s muse finds you in the space that lies between judging and criticizing ourselves based on self-imposed standards. Creativity is a connection to the heart, which has a separate language from our mind’s thinking and judging.

IMAGE:  “Through the Floor of the Lapis Lazuli” by Stephen Linsteadt (2009).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Linsteadt is a painter, poet, and writer. He is the author of the book Scalar Heart Connection, which is concerned with humanity’s connection, or lack thereof, with Nature, the Earth, and the global community. He has published articles about metaphysics and consciousness in Whole Life Times, Creations Magazine, and others. His poetry is published in Moments of the Soul (Spirit First), Solstice, Cradle Songs (Quill and Parchment Press), Saint Julian Press, Poets on Site, Pirene’s Fountain, and others. His paintings have appeared in Reed Magazine, Badlands Literary Journal, and Birmingham Arts Journal and can be seen at

by Keyna Thomas

Is there really much difference
Between the butterfly and the moth?
I like to think I’m on both sides
Eating nectar from the flowers
Chewing on someone’s gray sweater
Retreating to a dark cocoon
But drawn in between times
To the light.
Everything pretty has an ugly side
Every wing’s flutter would tickle
should it brush upon my cheek
And the cats, all three
Couldn’t care less whether
They chase a moth or a monarch
So they’re both the same to me
Sometimes I’d like to be one
More than the other
Especially when it rains
and it weighs, oh how
It weighs on me
Until my wings are moon bright
In the light

IMAGE: “Butterfly” (Engandered Species Series) by Andy Warhol (1983).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Keyna Thomas is a freelance writer of poetry and short stories, as well as a part-time administrative assistant at a state university, where she is working on her Bachelor’s. She has worked in New England as a reporter and staff writer for MediaNews Group. There, she learned that true stories about people are almost always as interesting as fiction. Since then she has been writing a short novel that merges the two. Keyna grew up in Central Massachusetts, where she now lives and works. She and some of her 140-character (or less) ramblings can be found at

Suburban wilds: a self-portrait
by Liz Worth

Ocean above the cheekbones and a savage lung, the breath of devastation to match the only scar I can still see from in here.

I dream in the robes of a witch, my mouth ravaged by an April birth and temper as deep as a wolf’s
but my hair speaks only of suburban wilds gone rough.
In my hand, the spider of insomnia as swollen as an under-slept eye.

Chipped tooth from spilling out onto the street a gasping reminder of my catch-all phrase: I’m fine / I’m fine / I’m fine.

At the wrist, ribbons of time – the dead honored in gold above flattened veins.

Skirt parted to reveal myself as the kind of girl who lets strange men’s legs rest against hers on a crowded subway.

(Lift. Just a little more.)

I don’t run with anyone because I don’t need to.

My mind isn’t as vulnerable as it used to be but
if you look me in the eye
you’ll find the photograph I will become:
a socket of poetry, its tunnel
as terrible as the Moon and
burning wild.

Downcast superstition behind the earlobe, pooling in the collarbone.
Paranoia’s an oil seeping from my pores,
blackheads behind bangs and drugstore concealer.
I scratch, shortened nails, a dictation of unease.

Lips, perilous. Wanting. My gaze, high.

Higher. Looking forward. Away, to something better.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For me, creating usually involves coffee no matter what time of day it is. Occasionally it also happens with dark chocolate or banana bread, which I believe help improve concentration, or at least boost my overall levels of happiness. I always carry a notebook around and most of my writing starts with just one word or a fragment of an idea: an image, a phrase, a strange pairing of words. I take it from there and just let the writing tell me what it wants to do.

IMAGE: “Queen Elizabeth II” by Andy Warhol (1985).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Liz Worth is a Toronto-based author. Her debut book, Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond, was the first to give an in-depth account of Toronto’s early punk scene. Liz’s first poetry collection, Amphetamine Heart, was released in 2011, and her first novel, PostApoc, was released in October 2013. She has also re-written Andy Warhol’s a: A Novel as poetry. You can reach her at

by Denise R. Weuve

None of my parts are original,
one of my kidneys
belongs to a 35 year-old Hispanic woman
whose name I will never know
nor how she died.
Maybe a traffic accident,
or a lover waiting beneath
her bed next to dust bunnies
and regrets forging their way
into bullets with gunpowder and tomorrows.
The other kidneys I leave where they were
except I turn them to face each other,
sad formaldehyde guinea pigs
commiserating about a life they never got to live.

My eyes stolen from a father
that disappears at seven
in the evening.
These sapphire eyes
wander truck driver style
searching for the next rest stop
or diner to forget there is a daughter
358 miles away.

The liver I have moved
to the center of my chest,
it ferments in vodka
becomes sauerkraut strong,
like the grandfather
whose hate sat so long
it had to swing from a basement beam
on a Thursday night.

My heart rest where the spleen once was,
enlarged, filled with a bacteria strain
whose origin puzzles even the devil,
as he puffs on filtered Marlboro,
talks of his yesterdays
with Gabriel and Michael:
Back then, they decided what parts belonged to whom
placed crystal vocal cords into humans
so we could praise our creators.
Once we all loved.

IMAGE: Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1981).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Denise R. Weuve is a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee who resides in Southern California. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and she has won a couple of awards here and there, like the annual Sheila-Na-Gig contest and Donald Drury Award in Writing. In the past. she has edited for various literary magazines and is currently associate poetry editor for Cease, Cows!  Her chapbook The Truck Driver’s Daughter will be released later this year by ELJ Press. None of this has impressed her cat, friends, or family, who can either be found chewing up her poems, calling to do a night out, or asking when she is going to get a “real” job. Currently, she attends Queens University of Charlotte, where she is obtaining an MFA in Poetry.