Summer Quarterly – Ekphrastic / Art (August 2012 / 12.17)
Artist, Francis Denis: Francis Denis is a semi-professional French painter. One reviewer states emphatically: “Francis’ abstract figurative paintings evolve around the single theme of emotion. Everything in these mysterious works is centered around the humble and sad angst that the figures portray. How Francis does this is quite spectacular. Set on a single tone backdrop, an immediate mood is set by the colour of these bold platforms. The expressive brushwork uses contrasting tones and the white outline of his subjects creates an almost collage-like aesthetic. [His work] allows for a playful and engaging guessing game for the viewer.”
With rough clay hands,
the cathedral ceiling with
limestone and volcanic ash.
Laboring on his scaffold,
his hands and arms burn with
cobalt and ochre visions.
Grounded in pigment plaster,
he suspends a fingertip —
reaches for Sappho’s apple,
a flaming luminescent sphere,
spinning the world’s axis.
He can almost taste Sophia
draped in his pastel embrace —
now he can feel her pulsing
in the quick heat of his teeth
Alexandra Isacson is the author of Poetic Anthropologies, a poetry tribute to the visual arts & humanities, published by Medulla Publishing (2011). She is a Pushcart and The Best of the Net Anthology nominee. Her writing recently appears in BLIP, Fox Chase Review, Blink-Ink, & other places. Please visit her here.
The Story on the Fingertips Writing the Word ‘Butterfly’
There once was a silk-covered road that connected the land of the humans with the Kingdom of Lost Emperors in the sky. To protect the alabaster-walled and jade-crested palace from humanity’s men, who had filled their desires so much with greed that it became an encroaching sea always in search of more land to consume as its own, the Immortals set a dragon god at the jaws leading to the gate of heaven in the lower realm.
Today, the sun casts a drowsy spell on the land and the god of dragons stretches his vermillion limbs across the road, a hill, and a spread of fields adorned in Spring’s raiment. He slumbers like a chimera sculpture in an ancestral tomb, his indomitable tail resting upon the mountain’s face.
Mujin flowers, as if unawares of the resident fire-breathing giant, blossom on the hillside just down from its mighty reach, and their beauty draws the Silent Emperors closer to the Earth so they can marvel at the newness of life, awe at the Earth’s jewel-colored blanket and remark at the coral and snowy white bloom of the peach tree whose magical fruit makes the nectar that keeps them from returning to the corporeal world as a cloud, hawk, beast, tree, or lake.
And standing there in their impermanence, as a great and adoring quorum, they concur that the fruit tree has the disposition of an Imperial Guard—strong rooted, vigorous branches, forked and erect, ready at attention and at-the-ready for their orders.
“They will bear this year’s crop unfailingly,” the wisest Emperor says. “Why, just see how its branches are like the towers of a kingdom. And see how they hold up that side of the sky just high enough for the reign of the butterflies to dance in the rooms of their invisible house.”
Michael Parker’s poetry, short fiction, flash, interview, and reviews have appeared in PoetsArtists, Ygdrasil, MiPoesias, 52/250: A Year of Flash, Oranges & Sardines, October Babies, Doorknobs & BodyPaint, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and New Letters Literary Magazine. His first chapbook The proclivities of all broken things appeared in The Dead Mule. He, his wife, two sons, daughter, Lucky the dog, and Catmus the cat live in Utah.
Joan Stepp Smith
Scenario ~ Body Copy [posthumous notes]
Create a script. Make it lifelike. Punch up the dialogue, flesh out the under-plot, bleed ebullient borders right and left to the sedges. Divulge that her eyes were perfect pale almond and her profile elusive and randomly beautiful and she [herself] was not [exactly the Plain Jane type] afternoons she slips off the canvas. Feather back the more moribund and meaty vermillions. Yes, there will be more tedious smudge work ahead. There will be more middle ground and desire to refine to brown also. Afterward, behind each pout biased to oppose big swallows, who can exhume the unanticipated stain already in you? Who can name the blush that rushes across each cheek and over the fawn beige breast skin mounded around each nipple? The round ferrule pointy-ended sabellines have furious work here to mitigate too much pink. Of course, best to choke up on the handle and gently mangle the hairs with your front teeth. Do not – no smoothing what’s mottled, is there? The real artist resorts to spit. It softens the give on a stiff brush, quite aside from the memory of softly ruptured figs felled in slow rain. There is no fix to fix this species of split. It passes. It was raining. It was a train to Sutton Hoo and who whispered the first, ah salut . . . who? And, nothing need change, not even her American perfume – Will it not reek from love and living to return? Oh, you – Persephone [you] must stay, too. Unmoved. Content to keep the past ambiguous [all his] and less capricious than might have been, an artist’s rich widow on her own.
Joan Stepp Smith, a native San Francisco, has degrees in English and Art History from the University of California at Berkeley and Sir John Cass School of Art and Design in London. She founded Starworks, a San Francisco public relations and conceptual marketing firm, and co-produced the award winning documentary G-String Mother, with Erik Lee Preminger about growing up as the love child of the legendary Gypsy Rose Lee and Otto Preminger. A lover of all animals, Smith provides respite care for retired performance horses on her ranch in Northern California. In a Pasture with Palominos (Tebot Bach, 2010) is her most recent collection of poems.
Glad always paintin’ things that are pretty to him but ugly to everybody else: abandoned buildings with the windows boarded up, old man Denniston whose nose takes up his whole face, and that bony kitty who used to always be in my yard. She ain’t bony no more though ’cause Glad took her home with him. Now, he wanna paint me. The first time he told me he wanted to paint me was last Saturday when we was sitting in his living room. I big-smiled – big-smilin’ is what mama calls black folk blushin’ – when he told me that ’cause he ain’t never painted a girl of his before. His older brother, though, who was listening in the hall by the window, said that it made sense for Glad to paint me since he only be paintin’ ugly things. When he said that he took my smile, tossed it out the window where the wind got a hold to it and carried it off to the swamp where it musta drowned ’cause I haven’t seen my smile since. Glad told me not to pay his brother any mind, but I know what his brother said is true ’cause he ain’t the only one who thinks I’m ugly. Glad is really the only one who be sayin’ I’m pretty. I used to always think he was pretendin’ when he would tell me so. But then the more he said it, the more he started soundin’ like he meant it. So it got so I started sorta believin’ I was pretty. Even when we would be sittin’ on his stoop and one of the Foster girls would walk by he wouldn’t even look up and if he did he wouldn’t even comment on how fine she was. Once, Miriam Foster walked by and ahem’d so Glad would look her way and when he didn’t, Miriam rolled her eyes like she was the queen of eye-rollin’ and mumbled something about how she got four sisters with armpits that look better’n me. Glad swears she didn’t say that, but I know she did. Glad said, “Them jeans she got on would look better on you.” And when he said that, I started big-smilin’. Then he said, “Even if she did say what you think she said, it don’t matter to me.” I wanted to kiss him (I mean really kiss him) for that but I also wanted to punch him for it, too, ’cause that meant I was just pretty to him ’cause he loved me and I want to be that kind of pretty that folks don’t have to love you to see — like the Foster sisters and their cousins, too. Sometimes I think Glad still be pretendin’ though ’cause sometimes when his eyes are on me I get the feelin’ that he’s wonderin’ why he love me and why he quit the little mixed girl for me and how come I got so much of my daddy in me and none of my mama. ’Cause if had even a little bit of my mama in me, I’d be something! That’s how pretty my mama is. People who can’t stand my mama say God gave her ugly me ’cause growin’ up she made fun of bad-lookin’ folks. But Glad keep on tellin’ me he like how I look; he keep sayin’ “Dang, you so pretty” like it’s the truth. Yesterday afternoon, on my porch, he said he wanted to paint me right then. He was about to run home and get his stuff and I told him let me run a comb and brush through my hair first, but he didn’t want me to. He wanted to paint me how I was: hair stickin’ straight up, knees ashy, and my toe nail polish chippin’. I didn’t let him even though he say I belong framed and hangin’ somewhere and not just on his wall but in a gallery and for sale, too. “You wouldn’t be hangin’ on that wall for but a minute before somebody was wantin’ to buy you,” he said and I woulda smiled my biggest smile yet if the wind hadn’t a-carried off my smile and let the swamp swallow it up.
Michelle McEwen, a storytelling poet and a poetic storyteller, has fiction pieces that can be found in Woman’s Work (an anthology of short stories from Girlchild Press) and on several online fiction writing communities such as 52|250 A Year of Flash and Fictionaut. Also, she was the winner of the 2010 e-chapbook contest for her collection of flash fiction titled Trouble which can be found here.
Monet was drawing for his eyes were drawn
to a scene and only this scene, out in plein air
as others kept to their studios with assisted light.
Monet sketched light as light changed, frustrated
he could not restrain light long enough to paint it.
It was drawing to an end. It was uncontrollable.
His solution was to chase light. He was determined
to see things happen as no events are ever the same.
He was willing to climb light into the sky to get it.