Ekphrastic May: Cotton Candy

Members of the Guilford Poets Guild are writing ekphrastic poems this month, poetry inspired by artwork hanging in their home.

Poem by Daniel Goldberg
Painting by Abraham Albert Goldberg (the poet’s father), 48″ x 33″.

Cotton Candy

Upon her birth no name was given, but
I always called her – “The Cotton Candy Girl”;
Forever, she had her place of honor
In the entrance hall of my parent’s home,
Just beyond the doorway threshold,
Watching all the comings and goings,
The guests, the parties, the children growing.

Like a sphinx she stood, gazing out silently,
Her blue eyes always in rapt contemplation,
Her Mona Lisa smile always hidden
Behind her pink cloud of sweet confection,
Her crown of golden tresses, silhouetted
Against summer’s rhododendron leaves.

By my father’s hand she was given birth,
Not in brush strokes, but in smooth enamel layers,
Brought forth with creative spark and fire,
Somewhere in the faded memories
Of the long forgotten past,
Standing watch over life and death;
To me, she was always, just there.

She has come to live in my home in Guilford,
Familiar as ever, one to the other,
And like the welcoming Island Colossus,
In her hand she holds a flaming pink torch,
Lighting the way to hope and promise.

My mind is now drifting, to apple crisp
Septembers, the Guilford Fair, the Flying Wallendas,
The colorful whirling lights of the dizzying midway,
Oxen pulls, steak and cheese, sweet Cotton Candy.

Ekphrastic May: A Wave

Members of the Guilford Poets Guild are writing ekphrastic poems this month, poetry inspired by artwork hanging in their home.

A Wave
by Ed Walker

more than a hat
or a warm coat
on a cold day,
a gemstone or glad-well,
a bucket of oats
a cloudless day

she arrives from heaven
and peels open her heart
for we mere mortals
to feel her mountains and streams, and rivers
of her million mile journey
to offer us the chance of a dance,
if we accept, to become one with
wind over water, light of stars,
sunrise and sunsets, her tidal pull,
before and after quenching our thirsty searching souls

Ekphrastic May: Sharing a Room with Two Other Women

Members of the Guilford Poets Guild are writing ekphrastic poems this month, poetry inspired by artwork hanging in their home.

Sharing a Room with Two Other Women
in a print by Leonor Fini
by Patricia Horn O’Brien

From their alcove in the far wall
these women oversee my room. They calculate
the angles and arches my living etches
in its held-in space.

Damp hair wrapped in a towel,
the towel unwound,
Elbows and breasts.
The mirror’s response.

They have numbered my ribs,
the hinges of my spine.
Nights with lovers.
Nights alone.

They memorize my dreams,
their ridiculousness.

Their contents totter then slip
into dreaded water. Persons. Houses.
Silt follows. Daylight bounces
off the water’s surface.
………………………………….My room

is full of familiar objects.
I ask what shall I have for breakfast.
Shall I wear a flowered skirt?

Have I come a safe distance?

The women only pose more questions.
One, her nakedness revealed
yet held by a half-opened door,
appears to be bringing a gift.
A pink puff of something.

The second waits at a dressing table.
Her hands, poised gray spiders,
are arranged before a topography
of vials and glasses.

Perhaps one woman is the other’s memory.
Their gaze enters my hallway, mine
the narrow black recess
behind the two other women.

Ekphrastic May: Le Bal à Bougival

Members of the Guilford Poets Guild are writing ekphrastic poems this month, poetry inspired by artwork hanging in their home.


Le Bal à Bougival
by Sharon Olson

Is she more noticeable in his arms, or more forgotten?
We do not see his eyes beneath his straw hat,
but we know they burn.

The red trim on her white dress excites him,
his hand wants to slide from its grasp on her waist.

They are hardly moving but their steps are powerful,
he leads her even as they stand still.

All the while she watches the watchers,
knowing they are seen as lovers,
as invisible as a couple, but worth a few stares.

He is my sister’s husband,
she is laughing over there beneath the trees,
and does not suspect us as the others do,
strangers throwing us a strange eye.

We are full of cold beer, caught up in the dance,
and the way he holds me I am staggering.

My left arm thrown over his neck
leaves my right side open.
This is something he knows well:
not to press too hard or smother,
but to leave part of the body untended, waiting.

I bought this poster of Le Bal à Bougival by Renoir when I was a teenager and hung it in my room in the early 60s. By now it is yellowed on the borders but I framed it to be able to keep hanging it in my present home. The first time I saw the painting in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was when I was well into my forties. I wrote a poem about it in my thirties and it was published in my book The Long Night of Flying.

Get Ready for Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Poem in Your Pocket Day takes place every year on a day in National Poetry Month. On this day, select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, street corners, and on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

It’s easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own Poem in Your Pocket Day event. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

  • Start a poem giveaway in your school or workplace
  • Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Memorize a poem
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite lines of poetry
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post lines from your favorite poem on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest
  • Send a poem to a friend

Poem in Your Pocket Day was initiated in April 2002 by the Office of the Mayor in New York City, in partnership with the city’s Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to participate. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.

Poet Elizabeth Possidente

In celebration of National Poetry Month, members of the Guilford Poets Guild were invited to share their thoughts about poetry and the life of a poet. Here’s what Elizabeth Possidente had to say:

How did you come to being a poet?
I think “being” a poet was underlying everything I have done with my life and I suppose that wasn’t practical. While I identified myself in other ways over the years, poet was always lurking in the shadows, lifting me along. My mother read and sang poems all the time to us as children and I have done the same with mine and my grandchildren.

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
I wish I could. I have a very bad memory. I made up songs to my cat and others.

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
Hmmm. It seems I am writing all the time something, be it a letter an email, poem elements. I wrote all the time in my work life. I love to putter in my garden, be in nature, to play my flute and sing with others. I play chamber music with a wonderful group, and have sung in various choruses since childhood. I am learning to play guitar a bit and bass recorder as an adjustment to my hearing impairments. I teach Yoga still, dance, do Chigong, Tai’chi. I draw some, but gave my paints to my daughter-in-law.

What has been the defining moment in your life as a poet/writer?
Although I had thought college was my leap to becoming a writer, I went in other directions. In my professional life I wrote all the time and used poetry as one modality to help others express or frame their experiences. Joining some poetry workshops later in life convinced me that this was how I wished to express myself in a less ephemeral way than dance/movement or music. Then, having the opportunity to read my poems at a memorial for a dear poet friend slid me into saying to myself that perhaps I really was a poet. How grateful I am to Edwina Trentham whose presence and workshops inspired and enlightened me. Presenting my poems at readings at the Clinton Art Gallery and the Guilford Library for GPG have been real boosters.

How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
I think I have been a member for three years now. This is an injection of plasma and red blood, mixed with laughter and intrinsic tears. Challenges. I love these people. Rising chi always. Arms around them all.

What inspires your writing today?
Life life and life. Ordinary, lush and tragic life. My own history, nature, family, and people around me. Everything and anything. Witness. Reflection.

Describe your poem-writing process. Where do you like to write?
Moments. Sensations. Feelings. Words. Memories. It can happen any time. Or not. Over coffee, on a walk, in the shower or off to bed. Paper scraps are essential, backs of envelopes. I write by hand in a journal, and after some reflection and composting the poem will evolve to my computer, and then another part of my brain steps in. It is like my cooking. Messy. And when a poem isn’t there, it just isn’t.

Where do you like to write? With what?
I write most at my kitchen/dining table in a sort of greenhouse where the light is wonderful and nature is just a glance away. I am surrounded with papers of all sorts, plants and the smells of kitchen and sometimes bustle. But otherwise I write anywhere on anything. I use a found pen to write and an old MacBook Air which I am afraid to update. Computer space is outer space as far as I am concerned but connects with another part of my brain

Who are you favorite poets and authors?
This may depend on the season or the year. Emily of course, G.M Hopkins, Naomi Shahib Nye, Wm Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Dr Seuss, Rumi and Tracy K Smith. Barbara Kingsolver, Sy Montgomery and others.

What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
I am always reading several:
The Overstory by Richard Powers just finished
As well as The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery
Writing About Your Life by William Zinsser
The Open Heart A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus by Dali Lama
Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Elizabeth Possidente, MA has returned to poetry after many years of jotting on envelopes, paper scraps etc while she worked as a Creative Arts Therapist and raised a family. She has published articles in her field and in the Connecticut River Review. She is a member of the Guilford Poets Guild.