Day 5. My annual National Poetry Month 2023 ekphrastic challenge is a collaboration between artists Aaron Bowker, Beth Brooke, Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad, Sara Fatima Mir, and writers, Tim Fellows, Jamie Woods, Merril D. Smith, Anjum Wasim Dar, Jane Dougherty, Robert Frede Kenter, Paul Dyson, Frank Colley, Lynne Jensen, Kushal Poddar and myself. April 5th.



The enchanted gate (OVP5)- Indianapolis Review. Also exhibited at The Epping Arts Shows, Sydney.


The Gatekeeper

This white gate, rusty
flaking paint
reflecting the hue,
the ghosts of times past.

A time portal into an age
where the clock ticks
at a slower pace
where we appreciate space and place.

Spring pumps nature’s pulse
into pastoral palettes,
as primary colours scream
a universal language of chroma.

Inside, our senses seduced
by fragrance by colour by birdsong,
butterflies flutter by
is this Gethsemane?

A time to reflect,
a time to be thankful.
Peace at last.
I leave – closing the gate behind me.

Paul Dyson

Paradise Awaits (OVP5)

Valet parking, aperitifs, stuffed
endive with salmon roe and crème fraiche.
But first—a six-digit code on his phone.
The gate swings open and he rumbles
through in a Dodge minivan with a rusted
rear panel, torn upholstery and a cargo
of empty Cheetos bags. He hasn’t seen
his mother since her last wedding.
In my father’s house are many rooms.
Someone else can read scripture this time.
He’s glad they didn’t prune the bridal
wreath spirea or train the multiflora roses.
He wonders why people call prison the big house.

—Lynne Jensen Lampe

Fruit (AB5)
The tree soaks water
Fruit hangs heavy on the branch
Falls off, becomes free

Gate (OVP5)
It was all worth it. The slow removal
of old paint, flaking off under the
rhythmic strokes of the rough paper.
Into the curves, taking out the rust
until bare metal showed.
Opening the can, the brilliance
of the clean white liquid.
The smell in the nostrils, the first
dip of the brush, the smooth glide
on the gatepost. Slowly covering
each scroll, each bar, until it shone
again in the spring sun. Whiter than
the blossom on the hedge.

Tim Fellows

Mazes (AB5 BB5)

We planted cities once, like berries on a cane,
stalk and branch and kernels inside warm husks.

We walked paths straight as fox tracks, once, from
here to there, and always back again, the kernel calling.

We gathered, planted, sowed, reaped beneath the sun
and rain, and the round of seasons back and forth.

Cities are mazes now, and we have lost the map,
or perhaps just thrown it out with the unwanted husks.

Jane Dougherty

Archaeologies and Need – Branches Extending (All)

Gates that keep us in and spill us out.
In waves:
Blood tipped sword of confusion.
We confiscate the transfusion,
Rich in memory.
And how to map out blocks of stone
From which thought cannot be extracted?

Settling into a borderline of fencing,
Lyrical as a lyre, the harp of injustice.
Inference and evidence are strewn along a road.

The heart is money, the heart is pulp,
A pulsing mess of berries on vines for
Birds to peck.

Accordion fields for poppies in process.
Seeds and gnarled branches hewn to arthritic
Undertow. Taken aback, breathless.
A hero myth. The jester cackles.

Ravens follow me everywhere –
Set their sights from perches on roped lifts.

At the top of an ancient declivity spelling:

Above the desert tundra’s line, or closer still,
A sculptural array, an Earthwork, long
Abandoned. Ghost echoes.

Our Circumlocution competes
with a computer.
Left behind with all secrets of
The owner’s thought-waves.

Falling, dusting off trousers.
Phoenician interventions, a timekeeper’s
alphabet. Walls of rain.

Never share secrets –
Cards do not lie.

Robert Frede Kenter



Inspired by all 4 Artworks

The city’s walls, breached by invaders
domino-tumble, and the attackers come
with spears, or swords, or guns, or bombs—
it could be anywhere, any time

there was a gate,
a garden green, red, yellow,
an apple tree, or maybe pomegranate? Citron.
Olive. Oak. Blue skies turned ash-grey.

Perhaps there is no garden. The gate opens
to sea-cliffs, forests, palm trees, desert sands—

but there is heartbreak and heartache,
and ghosts who wander through the rubble of what was.

Merril D Smith

Straddle (OPV5)

A closed gate is no barrier
in the dried-up sun dust summer holidays
coated in the smell of warm tarmacadam
you start climbing over the cast-iron rungs
to fetch a trademark Mark Hughes volley
badly executed – you’re a ten-year-old with poor coordination
but you’ll win the FA Cup for United one day.
The gate swings open with you one leg over
showing the red blotching
grass marks on the backs of your legs
the boys laugh as you swing,
unable to balance enough to get off.
They’ll stop taking the piss out of you in an hour or two
you’ll never forget the mud-baked burn of embarrassment
– your helplessness
the teasing
the pebbles they threw
– stranded on that unlatched gate.

Jamie Woods



I watched him painting that gate Titanium White, hard as nails.
he said, Discovered in Cornwall, Titanium named after the Titans.
As he painted each vertical, bar he named them after the children
of Uranus (Sky) and Gaia (Earth), six male and six female.
They all married each other, no wonder the world is in a mess.
The two outer uprights the Pillars of Hercules hold it together.
This gate represents the gateway between Heaven and Hell.
The garden is beautiful, well-tended with dedication and love.
He paused, The other side you don’t want to go, stay on the path.
You’ll not go wrong, like so many others. It meant nothing at the time
but now, as we carry his coffin, those few hours mean the world.

Frank Colley

Iron Secured

Iron secured against stone earths a way
into fire that forges, hardens, metal
makes tools, a hoe, a scythe, a gateway
fed by flames of air, made vital
by canals of water veined fresh and full
gives roundness and colour, idea
a burning candle that lights the brick maze
for its duration light’s disappear
our eyes adjust to the new dark, new maze.

Paul Brookes

Bios and Links

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

is an Indian-Australian painter, poet, and improv pianist. She is a self-taught artist who has been painting and exhibiting for over 20 years. Her work has been featured in several journals including Amsterdam Quarterly yearbook, Pithead Chapel, Two Thirds North, Kissing Dynamite Poetry,  and Stonecoast Review. She has been nominated multiple times for the Best of the Net. She lives and works in Sydney on the traditional lands of The Eora Nation.  Find her @oormilaprahlad and

Sara Fatima Mir

Born on the 26th of July, 2007, in Islamabad , Sara Fatima is a Pakistani of Kashmiri origin. Gifted by nature with an inborn aesthetic sense, she is passionate about art. It is not just a hobby for her, rather it is a well settled heart and soul, way of life which inspires her to visualize the fine beauty and form in the world around. She has won numerous art competitions at school level. She is a natural artist and has completed the following two Courses : a) Graphic Designing -2020 b) Resin Art Skills -2022 from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Finishing School, Islamabad Capital Territory Pakistan. This learning has further enhanced her artistic skills . International Participation in Art and Poetry Project: Rucksack A Global Poetry Patchwork 2022 A Poetry Project by Ms Antje Stehn of Italy and Mamta Sagar of India. Sara made a Teapot with the help of dried teabags. A requirement .Its image is on display at the Poetry Museum Italy. Sara Fatima Mir believes Art connects people by portraying their lives. Different people, different drawings, different stories. Using all sorts of mediums, she flaunts her amateur talent and aspires to learn more to become the best version of herself. Please Follow her on Instagram @sketchfilez

Beth Brooke

is a Dorset-based poet and her writing is grounded in the Wessex landscape and history. Her debut pamphlet, A Landscape With Birds was published by Hedgehog Poetry in July 2022. Her second pamphlet, Transformations, will be published by Hedgehog next year. The poems are all inspired by the work of Dame Elisabeth Frink, the sculptor and artist.

Aaron Bowker

based in the United States is a super self-critical Virgo, walking a path between worlds while dabbling in art, photography, and poetry. Poems have been featured in Failed Haiku, Cold Moon Journal, The Wombwell Rainbow, and Heterodox Haiku Journal, with art featured in The Hooghly Review, The Wombwell Rainbow, and Black & White Haifa/Haisha. Special thank you to Jerome Berglund for being my mentor and pushing me to limits otherwise unexplored.

Robert Frede Kenter

is a writer, pushcart nominee & visual artist with work in many venues, on line and in print, incl: Storms Journal, Anthropocene, Fevers Of, Acropolis Journal, CutbowQuarterly, Anti-heroin chic and many others, as well as books including EDEN (2021) a visual poetry collection, and Audacity of Form (ice floe press, 2019). Work in anthologies: Book of Penteract (Penteract Press, 2022), and Seeing in Tongues, an anthology forthcoming from Steel Incisors (2023). Robert is publisher & EIC of Ice Floe Press,

Jamie Woods

Swansea-based Jamie Woods is poet-in-residence at the charity Leukaemia Care. His work has been published in Poetry Wales, Lucent Dreaming, Ink Sweat & Tears and more. Jamie’s debut pamphlet Rebel Blood Cells is out in June, and can be pre-ordered from

Jane Dougherty

lives and works in southwest France. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, the Ekphrastic Review, Black Bough Poetry, ink sweat and tears, Gleam, Nightingale & Sparrow, Green Ink and Brilliant Flash Fiction. She blogs at Her poetry chapbooks, thicker than water and birds and other feathers were published in October and November 2020.

Paul Dyson

is from Swinton, Rotherham, in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
He says –

“We all have an urge to be creative
whether it’s art, poetry, music . . .
or just putting together flat pack furniture,
being creative keeps us alive and feeling human”

Paul gave up his day job 5 years ago to dabble in art, poetry and music, and hopes the passion in his Art reaches and touches the hearts of fellow humans too.

Merril D. Smith

lives in southern New Jersey near the Delaware River. Her poetry has been published in journals including Black Bough Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic, Acropolis, and Humana Obscura, and anthologies, such as the recent Our Own Coordinates: Poems about Dementia (Sidhe Press). Her full-length poetry collection, River Ghosts, was published by Nightingale & Sparrow Press, and was a Black Bough Poetry Book of the Month.

Twitter: @merril_mds  Instagram: mdsmithnj  Blog:

Tim Fellows

is a writer from Chesterfield in Derbyshire whose ideas are heavily influenced by his background in the local coalfields, where industry and nature lived side by side. His first pamphlet “Heritage” was published in 2019. His poetic influences range from Blake to Owen, Causley to Cooper-Clarke and more recently the idea of imagistic poetry and the work of Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez.

Lynne Jensen Lampe’s

debut collection, Talk Smack to a Hurricane (Ice Floe Press, 2022) concerns mother-daughter relationships, mental illness, and antisemitism. Her poems appear in many journals, including THRUSH, Figure 1, and Yemassee. A finalist for the 2020 Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize, she edits academic research in mid-Missouri, where she lives with her husband and two dogs. Visit her at; on Twitter/Spoutible @LJensenLampe; or Instagram @lynnejensenlampe.

Frank Colley

lives in South Yorkshire and has been writing poetry all his life. He is an active member of the Read to Write Group and has performed his poems at a wide variety of venues including CAST in Doncaster. His poems have appeared in several anthologies.
He is an admirer of Edward Thomas. His collection “The Story of Soldier A” was published by Glass Head Press in 2022. His self published pamphlet “The Nantcol Sonnets” both are available on eBay.

Gaynor Kane

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.