January 28, 2021

Ekphrastic Challenge, December 2020: Editor’s Choice

 

Old by Dominique Dève

Image: “Old” (acrylic on paper, 24x32cm, 2018) by Dominique Dève. “A Horizon Is Vague at a Distance” was written by Martin Willitts Jr. for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, December 2020, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]

__________

Martin Willitts Jr.

A HORIZON IS VAGUE AT A DISTANCE

I had tried to construct her memory,
but the image is grey winter clouds
before a snow storm breaks silence
in half, flakes like skin, yank-rips off
like bandages. I can’t remember
the good days cross-stitched. Every
haunting footstep, every turnstile
to an exit or entrance, every spinning-
jenny making fragments, splintering
again, again. Memory is muddy now.
It’s been too long, too many seasons,
too many things we never said, too
much shattering. When does memory
begin or end? splinters glass? I try
assembling pieces that don’t fit.
I mold her face out of clay.
Each particle of memory dissolves
as snowflakes on a tongue, crumbles
whatever we needed desperately to say.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
December 2020, Editor’s Choice

__________

Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “So much emotion bleeds from this poem, which transforms the painting into a fading memory, that the sorrow and longing feel inexhaustible. Every time I re-read it, I find I’m holding my breath by the end.”

Rattle Logo

December 20, 2016

Ekphrastic Challenge, November 2016: Artist’s Choice

 

Image by Arushi Raj
Image: “Light” by Arushi Raj. “The Surface of Light” was written by Martin Willitts Jr. for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, November 2016, and selected by Raj as the Artist’s Choice winner.

[download broadside]

__________

Martin Willitts Jr.

THE SURFACE OF LIGHT

Light rises out of my wrist like a raptor above the surface
searching to peel away the skin’s orange surface.

Light is haunting the intersections for places to feast,
light and metallic, edged sharp, used by cutting the surface.

It is soundless as a thought of danger that surprises,
the belief we can be responsible for it is only the surface.

Light becomes a better rapture that comes from a death-strike
delivered objectively by a drone, denting the surface.

Light is pain and separation. It knows distance does not matter.
Before we die, we will be taught to love its surface.

Light began as a gnat; in an hour it became a vulture, in two,
it became a dragon. At this rate, it leaves the air’s surface.

All this began when I woke up and opened the blinds,
and one microbe of light found me bringing its cold surface.

Surface of my loss, why do you take off? Why slice sadness?
It is raining metal fragments as it departs with a Ghazal surface.

Ekphrastic Challenge, November 2016
Artist’s Choice Winner

[download audio]

__________

Comment from the artist, Arushi Raj, on this selection: “Intriguingly, though it wasn’t mention that in the picture it was a woman’s hand, most of the poets seem to be drawn to feminine subjects. Of all the submissions I believe ‘The Surface of Light’ truly transmogrifies the picture. I absolutely loved the juxtaposition of an objective clinical tone with a breathless subjective urgency. But most importantly it had an undercurrent of music that somehow manifested the intermingling of the shadows and lights which prompted me to title my photograph ‘Lights’ in the first place.” (link)

Rattle Logo

July 24, 2015

Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2015: Editor’s Choice

 

Photograph by Alisa Golden

[download broadside]

__________

Martin Willitts Jr.

ROUTE 9

Welcome to Laurel, Delaware,
population three thousand seven hundred
where the Route 9 sign hides
embarrassed to be associated with the Laurel Blue Hens
of the Eastern Shore Baseball League.
We are the proud home of many of our governors
and no one could care less.
We are the location of the sweet potato blight,
one of our crowning accomplishments.
Notice our balloon construction houses.
We like to put up a fuss about trash collection day;
it is almost a weekly celebration.
The Old Christ Church is located near the millpond,
has a flattened barrel vault ceiling,
but some say it is haunted by ghosts of slave auctions.
Route 9 once ran through a cow pasture,
but was straightened out by geography.
Saw a moose on the baseball pitcher’s mound.
Some say the result of the potato blight
was so many governors being born here.
Now I gave you the one minute tour,
do you still want directions out of here?
Most people do. Route 9 tends to disappear.

Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2015
Editor’s Choice Winner

[download audio]

__________

Comment from the the editor on his selection: “From Boston, where the photograph was actually taken, we journey down to the other end of Route 9. Willitts did his homework to bring the town of Laurel, Delaware, to life with the sense of false nostalgia that inhabits much of Americana. Both funny and sad, it made me see the photograph in an unexpected way.”

Rattle Logo

October 17, 2012

Martin Willitts, Jr.

PACIFIC DOGWOOD (CORNUS NATTALLII)

This native species was dreadfully
scourged by disease,
like my own terminal body

the straight, smooth-barked
ascending branches
tipped by creamy flowers in April,
often blossom again in late summer or fall
unlike my own groaning muscles & putrid flesh

its wood is extremely hard,
pink, and split-prone,
limited by time and age I throb horribly,
the diabetes dwelling unnoticed in me

each twig
the large flower is attached to
is bent to prevent
overlapping with other flowers
and there are days
when my back bends down too
carrying the weight of ages
the creaminess of cataracts forming
the fall of my days are no longer green

from Rattle #23, Summer 2005

Rattle Logo