Archive for the ‘history and art’ Category

Ellis Island

Posted: February 20, 2017 in history and art, thought stream

Margaret at Toads, has us writing about Ellis Island accompanied by some powerful text and photos from which she has asked us to draw on to create a poem – see http://withrealtoads.

Their eyes feed on hope.
Not dulled by what is left behind.

Uprooted. Tossed in the air.
Chaff snatched.
Planted in harshness
that is Ellis Island.
A seed tray but beyond it the place
where eyes are fixed.

They wait.
To be pricked out, repotted.
This multi-culture massing
of a New World.
A Babel-tower crush.
That will grow.
That will not forget its roots.
That will not shut its doors.


An Algerian, one of 26m immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island
in America between 1880 and 1924 –
a photo from the island museum’s archives.

Tonight at     Bjorn is hosting and has us looking at Expressionist art … which has been fun checking out. We’re to pick a painting, write a poem. Here it is


Somewhere a rope has snapped.
Control frays
her screaming separates
from its moorings.
Rage of fear and pain
is not contained.
That propped up ego
is carved to stillness,
watches from behind.
The electric thrill.
She waits
for reaction
from those
who meet her inner being.

See her face, a fading sun
as it sets in final fury,

flaring up
in eyes
on lips.

See her tears fan out
across her chest
running for cover.

See her nature swamped
in its violence.
No longer a walking lie.


‘Franzi with a carved chair’ by Ernst Kirchner

Prisoner of the Storm

Posted: January 24, 2017 in history and art

So this is fun and challenging: write a poem using nouns as verbs! Lillian at dverse has thrown down this particular gauntlet! As a base for the prompt I took one of the prints created by the remarkable Japanese woodblock print designer Utagawa Hiroshige.

Ohashi bridge insects
over Sumadi River.
Locust rain obliterates
Atake. The town reduced
to a far-bank blot.
This web sends people
scurrying, cloud under
coats and umbrellas.
But there’s no escape
for a lone boatman.
Soaked he bends to the task.
Spades his log raft downstream.
His only focus to ride out the storm.

Sudden Shower at Ohashi Bridge, Atake, by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1857


Light is Falling

Posted: February 24, 2015 in history and art

at today we’re writing about a medieval tourney with knights, costumes, games, art, courage … so this is my take

Light is falling through branches
and the knight’s horse is all muscle and nerves.
It shifts and twitches,
hamstrung by the joust field hum
where colours and sound are swirling around.

In his corner tension shreds the edges,
the groom constantly pouring whispers
into the destrier’s ears, patting it flanks,
wiping off sweat as it pin-pricks the flesh.
He puts on its heraldic caparison, blood red and gold
flowing off its back, places the chanfron
over its head, while the knight
is armoured by his squire.
Breastplate, gauntlets and hauberk
swallow him up.

He fills his vision with the endless sky then
puts on his helmet. Crowd noise is reduced
to distant surf; the day reduced to a slit.

Everything framed in a rectangle:
the ground,
a mailed fist and the butt of a lance,
his charger’s head,
an opponent at the end of the line.

A storm blows up. A ton of metal,
horse flesh and humanity unleashed.
After the crashing and splintering there is

for the knight

a moment of no weight in all that plate,
as if gathered up by a breeze.
Then he recalls a shudder and pain
before hitting the ground.
Somewhere light is still falling through branches,
he stares at the letter-boxed sun,
watching it fade,
knowing it will shortly be gone.