Poems in a Pandemic: Awake

AWAKE
by Patricia Horn O’Brien

Despite my bamboo blind
clattering up, despite my elbow
seeking my fallen strap

to send it to my shoulder’s
angled quest, despite my eyelids,
aflutter with my window’s

close offer of a sparrow’s
still curiosity, she and I stare
each other into the speck of this hour,

neither she nor I adding anything
but the slender tether we allow. I
awake to how the sparrow

and I are in it
together. She, awake,
and without a word about It.

Ekphrastic May: Poems from Home

Stuck at home during COVID-19, members of the Guilford Poets Guild recently engaged in an ekphrastic exercise of writing poems inspired by works of art in their own homes. Similar to seeing rooms on Zoom, these poems offer a unique and intimate glimpse into the lives of these local poets.

Ekphrastic poetry is a response to a visual work of art, often a vivid, dramatic work that takes a painting, sculpture, or other artwork as its inspiration.

In June, GPG poets will be writing about COVID-19, and their reflections on the pandemic. Stay tuned!

 

Ekphrastic May: Summertime

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

by Evelyn Atreya

summertime –
the sweetness
of indecision

About this Art: In 1987 in a garden in Suzhou, China I came upon a local artist painting on silk swatches. I purchased this small piece and stuck it between the pages of a book to protect it on my journey. I completely forgot about it. More than two decades later, it tumbled out of the book I was preparing to donate to the library. I feel in love with it all over again and immediately brought it to be framed. I have treasured it ever since.

Ekphrastic May: November Walk with Andrea

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

November Walk with Andrea
Painting by Andrea Whiteman
Poem by Gordy Whiteman

The leaves on the trail
to the summit of Bluff Head
are cascading from the trees
and you
struck with the urge
to catch one
are swerving and grabbing
with arms darting out
like a teen
discovering a new dance

A leaf floats onto my wool shirt
a red and yellow
last hello and goodbye
No fair you shout
plucking the leaf…..laughing
and playing the flirt

By the time we return home
the autumn sky has clouded up
promising rain tonight
or will we wake to
early snow

Ekphrastic May: Heist

Heist
by Jen Payne

I drove the get-away car that day,
left it on idle in the parking space
closest to the electronic OUT door
of Porter’s Grocery there in Alpine.

It was a bright Texas day, hot,
the car angled in shade enough
for a clear-on view of the lobby,
bulletin board, handbills, and tacks.

We’d scoped out the joint before,
cased the aisles for jerky
and a bottle of wine for dinner
back in Marfa at the Thunderbird.

There was a nice patio
outside our room with blue lights
like the alien spaceships
you could see there sometimes?

Funny things in that part of Texas:
spaceships and meteors,
a roadside Prada shoe outlet,
Chinati’s take on art, and ours.

Ours was her, Viva Terlingua!
in her sunset-red cowboy hat,
hand-strung turquoise beads, and
that witty West Texas smile.

It’s a smile that says just about all
you want to say about West Texas,
about the wild Trans-Pecos
and its wide expanse of stars.

It’s a promise of whiskey at La Kiva,
or hot coffee while the sun rises
over Terlingua and Study Butte
over Big Bend and the Rio Grande.

It’s a smile that remembers solitude,
the promise of oddity and isolation,
of community, maybe, companionship —
two friends on the road laughing.

It’s the awesome sound a car makes solo
on a nighttime desert highway,
or peeling out from the Porter’s,
Viva Terlingua! rolled up in the back seat.


Viva Terlingua! was featured on a 2010 poster from the Original Terlingua Chili Championship. The artwork is by Texas-based artist Frank X. Tolbert 2. You can see more of his amazing work on his website, here. The Original Terlingua Chili Championship ( link ) was started in 1967 by his father Frank X. Tolbert Sr. and a group of local men. Special thanks to his daughter, Kathleen Ryan, for filling in these details on a recent serendipitous Saturday.

Ekphrastic May: Eagles Mere, Summer 2020

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

Eagles Mere, Summer 2020
by Gwen Gunn

the porch is cool at the Reily Cottage
modestly named for a place with ten bedrooms
on a lake in the Endless Mountains

our family has outgrown
any one or our family’s homes
so each summer we now meet here

relic of nineteen century summer retreats
in a town where the Sweet Shop
the Book Nook……are social centers

some of us boat and swim
some of us read and talk on the porch
shaded by ancient hydrangeas

the young ones are coaxed from digital to board games
to group singing……sung by varying talents
we take turns to finish a complex puzzle

even the family living in Denmark joined us
until this summer none of us now can meet
since outside the cool porch a hot danger lurks

Ekphrastic May: Sea Turtle Breaking Through

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

Sea Turtle Breaking Through
by Carol Altieri

Swimming and pushing hard
through the daily tightness
of lock- down restrictions,
I can never stay in place.
My blood is always stirring.

A whirling chaos of daily life
not knowing who will live or die
Time is stretched to infinity.
I need to smash through
the sheltering in place
tease clean oxygen from the air.

My swimming turtle is not slow,
taking forever to get anywhere.
She must be vigilant
watch out for predators
and escape from a sea lion-
to find a home
on a sandy beach and look for a safe
place to lay eggs.

She did not burrow like a clam
on the bottom of the ocean.
Instead, she smashes
through the roaring blue-green waves.
With her bright determined face,
she is strong of heart,
breaking through all setbacks,
knowing time is running out.
If she arrives on the sand
she will haul
herself up the beach at night
and lay her fragile eggs.

Ekphrastic May: Stairway to the Stars

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

STAIRWAY TO THE STARS
by Juliana Harris

All the paintings in my home
have great personal meaning,
either because I know the artist,
or they were gifts for a special occasion.

But one painting in particular
has special importance to me.
The picture of a young child
climbing a ladder to reach for the stars.

This is part of a mural
my then three-year-old grandchild
helped create for a project
at her nursery school.

It makes me smile
each time I look at it.

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