Sunday, March 13, 2016

Poet Neil Ellman: Triumphant Trees and Misplaced Faces

Triumph of the Tree
(Ele D’Artagnon, né Michele Lombardi-Toscanini)
When the past is prologue to itself
and the gutter rats and voles
have by their right inherited the earth
for their brief moment in the light

when the builders are gone
and the buildings emptied of
their keepsakes, furniture
and souls

when life crawls back to the sea
from which it came
and then dissolves as it once was
when the earth was young

the triumph of the tree
with an apple waiting to be picked
shall be complete.

Misplaced my face and dropped my eyes
and feeling somewhat empty
 (Debra Hampton, drawing)

I misplaced my face in a closet full
of old shoes, shirts and sweaters
nowhere to be found
perhaps intentionally to forget
what I last saw in the mirror on the wall
perhaps by accident
the way I lost my hearing from a fall.

Leering too hard or not at all
I also dropped my eyes
and they rolled into the gutter
and through the sewer grate
never to be seen or see again.

I’m feeling somewhat empty now
much like a taxidermist’s fish
having lost my heart and lungs
my pancreas and brain
as well my bearings in this troubled life
when too much is made of normalcy
and having all your parts.

Before My Birth
(Hans Arp, collage)

Before my birth
the wonder of darkness
filled my veins
and coursed through
transparent skin
and unformed bones
a river without a source
without, like me,  a name
or reason to be born
before the silence
of my dreams
could turn to sound
and dark to light
as I knew, somehow,
in the helix of my mind
they would.
The History of Her Life Written
Across Her Face
 (Margo Humphrey, lithograph)

In the furrows of her brow
the arch of her lips
in the history written
like hieroglyphs across her face
she remains enigmatic,
Cleopatra, a goddess,
a mystery inside
to the after-world
that barely knew her name.
In a face
a riddle.
in a mouth
an alphabet
without the words
to answer
the questions        
scratched upon
a pharaoh’s face.

A frequent contributor, New Jersey poet Neil Ellman has published more than 1,200 poems, many of which are ekphrastic, in print and online journals, anthologies, and chapbooks throughout the world. His latest chapbook, Mind Over Matta (Flutter Press, 2015), is based on the works of the Chilean abstract-surrealist, Roberto Matta Echaurren

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