Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Burst of Poet Ellman and Painter Gottlieb's Primeval Echo

New Jersey poet Neil Ellman has twice been nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize, and the Rhysling Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association. His poems appear in print and online journals, anthologies, and chapbooks worldwide. His ekphrastic poetry includes nine chapbooks devoted individually to the works of Dalí, Miró, and other modern and contemporary artists. Parallels: Selected Ekphrastic Poetry, 2009-2012, is his first full-length collection available here. Ellman talks about his ekphrastic poems here.
Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974) was one of the "first generation" of Abstract Expressionists. Born in New York City he studied at the Art Students League from 1920-1921 and again after he returned from travel and studies in Europe. Gottlieb was a masterful colorist and in the Burst series his use of color is crucial. He once said: “I frequently hear the question, ‘What do these images mean?’ This is simply the wrong question. Visual images do not have to conform to either verbal thinking or optical facts. A better question would be ‘Do these images convey any emotional truth?’

(after the painting by Adolph Gottlieb)

August sun scarring heaven’s face
the scent of burning skin
turns night to day, black to ageless red’s
barbaric burst of light—
   noon on the killing fields
       bleached black
red sun rising in the east
a blister in the sky
   without a face.

(after the painting by Adolph Gottlieb)

First awakening
First child  
First the crawling light
   glows first
   among the suns
First black then red
   then spectral white
First an infant
   then the sun
   speaks alphabets
   in silent space
First the scrawl
   of a deity
   upon the earth’s
   as at its last
First words matter
   in the garden of
   our death.

(after the painting by Adolph Gottlieb)

We are two brothers
two selves
two moons hovering
above the earth
perfectly aligned children
of promiscuous gods
their echoes we echo
each other’s better half
and worst
our orbits intersect
from time to time
when too-close brothers
too-soon collide
as sibling do
who envy the other’s
surpassing side.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Into the Trees with Rachel Ikins and Scott Bennett

Rachael Z. Ikins has been creating and publishing poetry and art since age 14. “I have won awards in both writing and art and published several books, including my first YA novel. I designed the cover art for all my releases.” Her books include The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods (2013), God Considered the Horizon (2014), Transplanted (2013), and Jones Road Chronicles (2012). 

Artist Scott Bennett lives and works in Jamesville, NY. “My “Tree Portraits” came about as a natural outgrowth of my landscape painting. I love being in the woods, and in natural places in general, and would regularly find myself standing in front of trees, looking hard at the texture and color of the bark, the wonderful shape, and telling myself that I should paint ‘that’:  The tree, and that feeling, up close. See more of his work at

Applewood Smells Sweet when Burning
For Scott 

With palette knife and tools you capture;
hot-spring-sun, after-school, racing for 
my apple tree
in Keds and shorts.

Your hands/paint sculpted broken/ 
healed elbow of branch that beckoned this child,
where my father built me a picnic/reading platform.
I lugged boxes of Scholastic books to savor
on my belly among blossoms.

Leaves unfurled, grapevines' drape
like a lavish hairnet, or living tent. 
Secrets hidden, bird nests, sour fruit, hard apples,
pears and the scent of wildness-on-wind.

Barefeet clambered high, outside, to reach for clouds.
Tin-can phone strung to Seckel pears by the fence.
Coded messages, invisible inks, left in a basket poked
into trunk's lowest knothole.
Astride a branch 3 levels higher,
I read my mail. 

Rope-swing dangled over packed-earth floor.
When I threw my head back, it looked like crazy-quilt, sun
sheen, green stained glass, abstract patterns 
and mystery chased my face, I swung up and away.

Year I turned 12, freak June tornado
sucked that apple tree from earth, roots and all.
Men sawed the broken branches for fireplace wood,
hauled away. My mother made a flower bed.

No matter what currant bushes or blackberries grew
I averted my eyes from the black iron planter
filled with marigolds on the old apple stump.
A cemetery, make no mistake.

Did you play there with me long ago,
and I've just forgotten?
Maybe friends with the boy across the street? 
How do you know my tree? I still hear gush,
rain shrieking through second floor south 
window during my mother's card party.
A cataract burst down the stairway, 
big adventure
to a child

until we discovered the victim.

A day far from childhood and magic, 
I open my email and social networking sites to find 
my tree, that stillness/sun and possibility;
afternoon, home from school, life begun.
You must have played there with me long ago.
You must have loved an apple tree, too.