Friday, July 29, 2016

Poet Robert DiLallo on "The Death of Marc Chagall"

Le Cirque Bleu, 1950, oil on canvas
Trenton Local
(The Death of Marc Chagall)

Tonight Chagall is dead
and a raised train races
through the Jersey ruins,
through ghostly mill rows,
Eastern Orthodox churches
with their squat bowl tops
and hawk-nosed pastors
who soup on beef, onions
and well-brined cabbage.
Rough through Newark
the 6:10 lurches.

Your couples in love and
winging fiddlers are left
in the broken world,
brief replies, perfect colors
falling like stars from heaven,
like snow, transparent upon
Le soleil de Paris, 1977, color lithograph
the shake roofs, striking
against the finite and foolish.
Warm mules rise from labor,
lift high their whispering heads.
confront the snarling pit.
How your home here
will miss you.

Goodnight the youth you had.
Goodnight the cobbled terror
and goodnight Europe
of the antique roving bands.
Goodnight, highest Jew
of higher view, brown-bag man
with angel hands.
How much will you miss
your home here?

Sunset, a raging purple wound
in the toxic Jersey sky:
Newark, hoof and nail town,
a weeping place where
a country has gone and bled.
Tonight, Chagall is dead.
Romeo et Juliette, 1964, color lithograph
Robert DiLallo has published poetry primarily in the US and Italy, although some of his poems have been translated into Japanese. A native New Yorker, DiLallo once lived in Edgar A. Poe's house in The Bronx for five years as writer-in-residence. He is the founder of the magazine “Italian Food, Wine and Travel” and worked as a journalist and as a copywriter and creative director in advertising before moving to central Texas. Now he lives on a large cattle ranch and lists his occupation as “cowboy."

Marc Z. Chagall was born Moishe Shagal in 1887 in Liozna, near Vitebsk, Russia. When he moved to Paris to study art, he experienced modernism's "golden age," synthesizing Cubism, Symbolism, Fauvism, and later Surrealism. Yet throughout these phases of his style he remained, as art historian Michael J. Lewis insists, “most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was one long dreamy reverie of life in his native village of Vitebsk." "When Matisse dies," Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, "Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is." Chagall died in France in 1985.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Poet Steve Klepater Responds to Robert Rhodes' Paintings

How will I find you 
Night Painting: Where will I find you when you’re gone 
(the river in starlight)? by Robert Rhodes. Oil on Canvas

in this tangle of brush
and mist?  Soft lips

whisper, hair cascades
over the falls of your back,

but last night I missed
a turn, followed

a will o’ the wisp
down some dead end

path, mistook an owl’s
call for a friend’s advice.

Bring me your breath,
the touch of open hands.

I have kept your shadow
near the lining of my coat.

Up to my knees
in ice-melt pools, I listen

for your welcoming song
above shivering spruce and oak.

Spring Storm 
Spring Storm: Hills Near Exton by Robert Rhodes.
Oil and charcoal on Arches paper

A gash, blood line knifing 
spring sky in a wild dance
of grass, trees, and wind.

Hills tumble to the sea
in a rush of rain:
odor of worms and mud, 

ozone taste at the back 
of the tongue. Air rips apart, 
the world broken and reborn.

White and green waves shake
dry, dead bones of winter,
breaking to songs of roaring clouds.

Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others.  Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press. His full-length collection Family Reunion is forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.

Robert Rhodes grew up in the Mississippi River delta region of eastern Arkansas, near Memphis, TN, and now lives in Lancaster, PA. He has painted since he was 12, and for nearly 20 years was a newspaper journalist. He has published three poetry chapbooks and the 2009 nonfiction book Nightwatch: Alone on the Prairie with the Hutterites

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Feast of Van Gogh- Poets Gretchen Primack, Gregory V. St. Thomasino

The Drawbridge, 1888
by Gretchen Primack

Along his path, white geese forage
in deep fields. The bridge ahead
echoes Holland, so he sets up
the easel and mixes pigments;
not his new fire-orange and bleeding
green, but blurred colors of memory.

He paints stones jutting into pale lines
of water, the famous ear quiet by his jaw. 
In his brush sing ochre roofs, bristled reeds
clustered along a wide sponge
of sand, wood and cables ready
to raise the bridge.

And then the loss seeps through his brush tip,
color of straw, in the hollow slant
of a wall, in his eye and ear.
It overwhelms boats and bridges,
widens like a homeland.

Published in Doris' Red Spaces, Mayapple Press 2014

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889

the reed of a loom
the guideways, of a loom, or

when suddenly, when suddenly
this is spring, and this is summer

and this, this is open sky. 
the birds resemble a man. 

dandelion.  giddying. 
budded.  spree. 

roundly, with joy
for nothing and for everything

the day, with my own heart
too soon, arrayed.  this haste

this pasturing.  this coffee companion. 
this cup.  this yellow sky

Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889
At Arles
by Lisa Mullenneaux

Fields of yellow mustard pollinate the air,
powder all his brushes, halo his red hair.

When the harvest’s over, gleaners out of sight,
he paints the purpling haystacks at twilight.

Fireflies wink, his cue to pack
and with his day’s work on his back

enter the tavern’s gossip and drunken jests,
then finally to sleep if not to rest

for he is yellow-mad Vincent always in arrears.
His lice do somersaults into your beers.

Look, mes amis, his teeth are black.
Fields of yellow mustard, take him back.

And we'll end with Anne Sexton’s “The Starry Night,” 1889

The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die.

It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die:

into that rushing beast of the night,
sucked up by that great dragon, to split
from my life with no flag,
no belly,
no cry.

Gretchen Primack is the author of two poetry collections, Doris’ Red Spaces (Mayapple Press 2014) and Kind (Post-Traumatic Press 2013). Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Field, Poet Lore, Ploughshares, and other journals. Also an animal advocate, she co-wrote the memoir The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals (PenguinAvery 2012).  Read more about her work here.

Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino’s most recent volume of poetry is The Valise (Dead Academics Press, 2012).  He is founding editor of the online poetry journal, Eratio.  He lives in Brooklyn Heights, NY, where he works as a private docent. Read more about his work here.

Statement by St. Thomasino:
“After van Gogh I am moved to feel there is a certain solitude in extreme emotion, a certain solitude in the sensibilities that cannot but know in such manner and that cannot but find expression in like passion and color (and as in Irises, where the I rises, and in Wheat Fields, where I am beside him).  I tried to capture a fragment of that in my poem.” 

Lisa Mullenneaux is a journalist and poet based in Manhattan. She maintains this blog. More at

Anne Sexton (1928 – 1974) was an American poet known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book Live or Die.