Day 15. Congratulations to all contributing to my annual National Poetry Month 2021 ekphrastic challenge on reaching the half way point. To collaborating artists John Law, Kerfe Roig, Jane Cornwell, and writers Ankh Spice, Jane Dougherty, Redcat, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Simon Williams, Susan Richardson, Tim Fellows, Anjum Wasim Dar, Tony Walker, Merril D Smith, and me. April 15th

Day 15

JL15 75 million years at spurn beach

75 million years at spurn beach

-John Law

15_ace of cups_wombwell

Ace of Cups

-Kerfe Roig

JC15

-Jane Cornwell

Inspired by all three

Too Late

Cosmic after-
glow, echoes of light,
energy
and matter
through time, before time
before our time–eons

of coursing
color no one sees–
from the sky
to the sea
repeating cycles, fractals
and Fibonacci

on the beach,
a nautilus shell—
you hold it,
marveling
at its spiral curves, ancient
sailor, now moored here

amidst stones
and gull laughs, soaring
as Gaia
cups the world.
This is how life unfolds, in
circles and seasons

without hate.
Too late for her, or
him, or them—
the Other—
though filled with stardust, too. See
how cycles repeat?

-Merril D Smith

We left the hospice for some air
The piwakawaka has been following us
for an hour, since we left the news
behind. I have gripped the pretty shell
you handed me when we began to walk
so hard the scallop of it has ghosted a fan
on my fingertips. I hold them up, pincer
the watery sun with the rays
of my new lumpy sun. You smile
without your eyes involved and I can’t
stop thinking about a tiny wet life
lived in so much dark, how what’s left of it
just easily unstamps the whorls
that mean me. All I had to do was hold on
tight for a while, this walking shell, strong
but delicate by comparison. Delicate, too
compared to the persistent bird, and spiralling
just the same. Fan of his tail
a spread hand, waving him around and down, updraft
and plummet and beeping like a heart
monitor gone haywire the whole damn time.
You know they’re messengers
you finally say. So much silence
before those words that all around us generations
of shellfish have hatched and begun to build
their armour. I guess it’s time to crack
the hinge. My hand finds the shell
in my pocket, grips so hard
it hurts. Yes. I say, letting that beautiful thing
erase my pattern. They tell you
someone’s time is up.

-Ankh Spice

Three Times Three Times Three

She was hung upon the tree
Three times three times three
So her mother didn’t have to her unwanted child see
So the other children could hurl spear insults with glee
So men could do as they pleased while she couldn’t flee

She was hung upon the tree
Three times three times three
For the crime of not stifling her curiosity
For the crime of speaking out against bigotry
For the crime of being different as all could see

She was hung upon the tree
Three times three times three
For the sin of searching creativity
For the sin of reading witchery
For the sin of speaking knowledgeably

When the God of the Hanged saw a woman tested on the tree
Three times three times three
Fjolnir sang one of the magic song to set her free
The One Eyed taught her how to truly see
Wayfinder showed all the ways on land and at sea
Forni taught her the world’s history
Ygg showed the secrets of the tree
Glapsvid taught her spells to once more happy and healthy
Odin showed her the runes to unravel every mystery
The All Father gave her mead to awaken her poetry

-©RedCat

Erosion

Memories cast in stone
            for safe keeping
Reaching back through time
             winding, knotting, leaping
Bumping, knocking, scraping
             Clarity from edges leaking
Cracked, chipped, eroded
             Embattled by time, decreasing
Until washed up as sand
             on life’s beach heaping
The young and old alike
              look back and smile as castles building.

-Tony Walker

The Lynching Tree

(Inspired by Jane Cornwell’s 15th Painting)

The guide, Sam, shows us the tree,
and if you query which tree it may be,
he says, the lynching tree;
its boughs bear the fruits in arbitrary seasons;
those drupes look almost like you and me;
their heads droop a little like the half open jackknives;
the scent of ripening reminds you
of the morgue or the sweaty shivering body
of one grieving widow who disappears
after lodging a complaint against a local baron.
We click a few snapshots and, although no body
hangs from the tree presently,
the photos reveal one – his dark skin
contrasts with the mean daylight
on every detail of the village, houses, ruins,
political slogans written on the walls,
tobacco juice spit against the wordings.
-Kushal Poddar

JL15

picking up shells and weighing them in his hand he saw
they fit his fingertips microscopically

whorl to whorl adhesion

dreams of sea and sea life shuddered through him

in his mind he was on his knees
allowing the tide to take him
-Simon Williams

The sky the sea is full
Inspired by all three art works.

The sky is filled with voices, the sea
with the heavy rhythm of rolling pebbles,
the clash of shells, fossils cracking
beneath the weight of water.

Sky is a-flutter with feathered cloud-birds,
rain-falls and the leaf turbulence of the wind.

Sea roars in the silence of its deep green,
fish-full and secret where light never pierces
the dark with probing needles,

and only the daggers of gannet bills
strike sparks from mirror scales.

No hand or foot of man comes here,
only his breath of poisoned air,
the sunken midden of his leavings.

-Jane Dougherty

The Old Tree

The old tree felt a profound sadness.
It had seen so much, so many summers
and winters.
Its leaves had come and gone, its girth
expanding ring by ring.
There had always been creatures that
lived their brief lives in and around it.
Other trees had gone too, felled
by gales and axe, but it was spared.
For the first time, the weight that pulled
on its branch reminded it that its roots
no longer drank the way they did.
Its core felt dry and empty.
Soon, it thought, I will return
to the earth, leaving only a shell.

-Tim Fellows

Love Song
(inspired by JC15)

He reaches beneath the sweltering soil,
pushing fingers into a nest of thorny roots,
a perfect hiding place for a death wish.
He is just ten years old.

At fifteen he talks more to the trees
than to other boys his age.
He hears music in the rustle of leaves,
a language only he can understand,
and dreams of falling asleep in the earth,
safe beneath willow and elm.

On his twentieth birthday,
he walks into the woods at dawn,
gathering the wind into his lungs,
and offers the notes of a love song
to the canopy above him.
He is going home.

Resting his cheek against
the warm body of his favourite tree,
he breathes deeply,
inhaling the scent of her,
and pulls himself into her arms,
climbing with purpose toward the sky.

He strings a rope over a high branch,
an expression of joy playing on his lips,
touches the skin of his lover for the last time,
and drops into the hands of death.

-Susan Richardson

JC15

I was 13
It was summer
The season of fevers and sweats

And exam results

I heard word about something strange at the
Space Research Institute staff quarters
Something unusual where the
Space scientists lived

So I went walking down, from my apartment building
On the corner of Cambridge Road and Cambridge Layout
Down to the staff quarters

Those squared-off, nondescript, stalwart buildings
They’re still there. I still pass by them often

Anyway this was a summer and I was 13
And I’d gone there to stand in the road and gawk
Because someone had told me

And now I saw

A boy – older than me, probably 20, 21, but still
A boy
Hanging so calm and quiet by the neck from a window
No breeze, he hung so still
So dead

He’d failed his engineering exams

And I think of him, the first dead person I saw
Hanging there forever
But not really – I pass that way a lot
And obviously someone cut him down, carried him down
• Was it his father? A neighbour? A servant? The police?
And he’s not there anymore
But he is

Like at the tree in the compound
Of the teacher’s quarters where a friend lived
And we’d gone there to smoke weed
And watch Live In Pompeii on VHS
When his parents were gone travelling
And we’d gone out at night to get rum and coke
And he pointed to the tree and said it was
The suicide tree
A woman had gone strange after a miscarriage
And hung herself there

My friend swore in the right kind of moonlight
You could still see her hanging there
So quiet, so calm

[The hanged man in the Tarot is in a different quandary
He is inverted, alive
He may be seen to be smiling

Do suicides smile?
On the inside, I mean
I don’t think so
But if they did, would I blame them?
I don’t know]

I almost went the same way, once
But the belt snapped
I fell on my ass
And I’m still here

Really still here

Sometime around that time my new rock n’ roll hero Kurt Cobain
Shot himself
And he isn’t here anymore either
Except in certain kinds of moonlight
Or on the radio or on the stereo

And some years later I used to hang with
The guitarist in my first band
And he had a neighbour, a cool, kinda nerdy older boy
And that summer my guitarist told me
His neighbour failed his exams
And hung himself

So he’s still there too
But not really
But really

He was an only son.

I think of ropes and trees and steel railings and fans and

I think of how I’m still here. And I want to just sit under a tree and
Think.
I really don’t have a point here
If you feel the need to die by suicide
I respect that
I can understand that
It’s not a sin
If you hatelove someone who died by suicide
I respect that
I can understand that

A belt broke
And I’m still here

A tree branch didn’t break
A window frame didn’t break
A steel railing didn’t break
A shotgun spat lead
And they’re not
And they are
And we all are
Ever and ever

I suppose my point is that time is always
Standing still
And I want to be still too
For a moment
And just remember
That
Shadows gather
Light beckons
We exist
And then we don’t.

-Jayaprakash Satyamurphy

His Card Drop

Holds in one hand a card in other rope,
blue mariner’s rope he recovered pulled
out of ever altering sands of hope
seventy-five million years of Spurn nulled.

Fossilised ammonite from dinosaur
coast, odd deposits drift onto this spit.
His decision depends on how his flaw
is seen by how the card falls, stay or flit.

Ace of Cups is upright so this time stays
the hanging rope, the drop, game of chance
ever shifting sand spit of his life’s ways.
Waits for next time he can’t decide his plans.

Making decisions is never easy.
In your own hands the responsibility.

-Paul Brookes

Bios and Links

-John Law

“Am 68. Live in Mexborough. Retired teacher. Artist; musician; poet. Recently included in ‘Viral Verses’ poetry volume. Married. 2 kids; 3 grandkids.”

-Jane Cornwell

likes drawing and painting children, animals, landscapes and food. She specialises in watercolour, mixed media, coloured pencil, lino cut and print, textile design. Jane can help you out with adobe indesign for your layout needs, photoshop and adobe illustrator. She graduated with a ba(hons) design from Glasgow School of art, age 20.

She has exhibited with the rsw at the national gallery of scotland, SSA, Knock Castle Gallery, Glasgow Group, Paisley Art Institute, MacMillan Exhibition at Bonhams, Edinburgh, The House For An Art Lover, Pittenweem Arts Festival, Compass Gallery, The Revive Show, East Linton Art Exhibition and Strathkelvin Annual Art Exhibition.

Her website is: https://www.janecornwell.co.uk/

-Kerfe Roig

A resident of New York City, Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images into something new.  Her poetry and art have been featured online by Right Hand Pointing, Silver Birch Press, Yellow Chair Review, The song is…, Pure Haiku, Visual Verse, The Light Ekphrastic, Scribe Base, The Zen Space, and The Wild Word, and published in Ella@100, Incandescent Mind, Pea River Journal, Fiction International: Fool, Noctua Review, The Raw Art Review, and several Nature Inspired anthologies. Follow her explorations on her blogs, https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/  (which she does with her friend Nina), and https://kblog.blog/, and see more of her work on her website http://kerferoig.com/

-Tim Fellows

 is a poet and writer from Chesterfield whose poetry is heavily influenced by his background in the Derbyshire coalfields – family, mining, politics, and that mix of industry and countryside that so many mining areas had. People can email me at timothyjfellows@gmail.com for a copy of the pamphlet or visit http://timfellows13.blogspot.com for recent poems

-Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

is a writer based in Bangalore, India. His books include the novella Strength Of Water (2019) and the poetry collection Broken Cup (2020). He used to write horror, but now it’s anyone’s guess. 

-Anjum Wasim Dar

Born in Srinagar (Indian Occupied )Kashmir,Migrant Pakistani.Educated at St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi. MA in English MA in History ( Ancient Indo-Pak Elective) CPE Cert.of Proficiency in English Cambridge UK. -Dip.TEFL AIOU Open Uni. Islamabad Pakistan.Writing poems articles and stories since 1980.Published Poet.Awarded Poet of Merit Bronze Medal 2000 USA .Worked as Creative Writer Teacher Trainer. Educational Consultant by Profession.Published http://Poet.Author of 3 Adventure Novels (Series) 7 Times Winner NANOWRIMO 2011- 2019.

-Jane Dougherty

writes novels, short stories and lots of poems. Among her publications is her first chapbook of poetry, thicker than water. She is also a regular contributor to Visual Verse and the Ekphrastic Review. You can find her on twitter @MJDougherty33 and on her blog https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/

-Redcat

RedCat’s love for music and dance sings clearly in The Poet’s Symphony (Raw Earth Ink, 2020). Passion for rhythms and rhymes, syllabic feets and metres. All born out of childhood and adolescence spent reading, singing, dancing and acting.

Her writing spans love, life, mythology, environment, depression and surviving trauma.

Originally from the deep woods, this fiery redhead now makes home in Stockholm, Sweden, where you might normally run into her dancing the night away in one of the city’s techno clubs.

Read more at redcat.wordpress.com

-Merril D Smith

is a historian and poet. She lives in southern New Jersey, where she is inspired by her walks along the Delaware River. She’s the author of several books on history, gender, and sexuality. Her poetry has been published in journals and anthologies, including Black Bough Poetry, Nightingale and Sparrow, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Fevers of the Mind.

-Tony Walker

By day Tony climbs the greasy pole of clinical hierarchy. Not yet at the top but high enough to feel the pole sway and have his grip challenged by the envious wind of achievement. Looking down on the pates and gazes of his own history, at times he feels dizzy with lonely pride. By night he takes solace, swapping scalpel for scripts and begins his training and climbing again, in the creative world of writing. His writing is an attempt to unify the twenty-four hours. @surgicalscribe seeks to connect the clinical and creative arts of surgery, science and writing. Hoping to do for medicine and surgery through creative writing what Prof Cox has done for physics with television.

So, he practices his art.

-Ankh Spice

 is a sea-obsessed poet from Aotearoa. His work has been widely published internationally, in print and online, and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He’s a co-editor at Ice Floe Press and a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine. You’ll find him and a lot of sea photography on Twitter @SeaGoatScreams or on Facebook @AnkhSpiceSeaGoatScreamsPoetry.

-Simon Williams

lives and works in Edinburgh, where running clears his head and creates space for ideas. He publishes short stories and poems on www.simonsalento.com

Paul Brookes

Paul is a shop assistant, who lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. His first play was performed at The Gulbenkian Theatre, Hull.  His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), Stubborn Sod, with Marcel Herms  (artist) (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). Forthcoming Khoshhali with Hiva Moazed (artist), Our Ghost’s Holiday (Final book of threesome “A Pagan’s Year”) . He is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews. Had work broadcast on BBC Radio 3 The Verb and videos of his Self Isolation sonnet sequence featured by Barnsley Museums and Hear My Voice Barnsley. He also does photography commissions and his family history articles have appeared in The Liverpool Family History magazine.

5 thoughts on “Day 15. Congratulations to all contributing to my annual National Poetry Month 2021 ekphrastic challenge on reaching the half way point. To collaborating artists John Law, Kerfe Roig, Jane Cornwell, and writers Ankh Spice, Jane Dougherty, Redcat, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Simon Williams, Susan Richardson, Tim Fellows, Anjum Wasim Dar, Tony Walker, Merril D Smith, and me. April 15th

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