Tag Archives: ekphrastic

#290: Coda (Zebra Boat)


Today, the napowrimo website challenges us to write a poem that reacts both to photography and to words in a language not our own. We are to begin with a photograph. Then we are to find a poem in a language we do not know. Ignoring any accompanying English translation, we are to then translate the poem into English, with the idea that the poem is actually “about” our photograph. On the face of it, this seemed like a super difficult task, but an intriguing one. So I gave it a try, with apologies to Xavier Roelens from Belgium, by “translating” his poem “Coda,” inspired super loosely by the photo above. Prepare yourself for some serious nonsense. I found myself a slave to making English-sounding equivalents of the words in the original language.

Coda (Zebra Boat)

The ship in raging water, zebra hoofed, named him
by the poison that overcame the obstinate rain and
cries words she puts on.

That the zebra harnesses blood & guts defies understanding.
But the shipmaster reopens, sparkles in soft oblivion, while
in the bilge, zebras, invisible, even in Homer’s ear,
ooh, contact problems in the making, have more angels
speaking, have more hair round a kitchen, up so near
islands that they might blow, soak, die in the opposing
moat pavilion.

Gross most stinkingly, the sun comes as an actor,
waking, almost a sinker, as our zebra ship
recharges herself. This damned longitude,
like a zeitgeist from on high that has never heard,
never beheld zilch, sails our boat of zebra.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

#277: Dog and Bunny Medieval Marginalia



A dog astride a bunny
is jousting to the death
against a bunny astride a snail,
battling while balancing
precariously on a thorned tendril
of a rose bush.
The dog appears joyful
in the face of this encounter,
but both the bunny he is riding
and the bunny he is battling
look surprised, concerned,
on their faces the bunny version of
what the fuck.
It may be for the battling bunny
that he is self-conscious of his ride,
a snail after all, and thrown into
the bargain, a snail with a human head,
bearded and balding, no hyper-
sensitive slug antennae protruding.
And the bunny the dog is riding
can’t even look at the proceedings,
is bottomlessly shamed for participating
in the potential destruction and death
of a fellow compatriot, a brother bunny,
a long-time denizen of the community
rabbit hole. The dog with red shield
goes at it while the blue shielded bunny
has only gravity in his favor.

I’d like to think
that the medieval monks who scribbled
these delirious drawings in the margins
of what might have been manuscripts
of utmost import and gravity, were
thinking about these things, telling themselves
these stories to distract them from the
tedium of copying someone else’s words.
This is not mine, they said, so I will
make it mine, and I will draw things
like this in the margins, the absurd,
the grotesque, even the obscene;
I will be happy or
at least sufficiently entertained,
and my patrons
will be none the wiser.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

#183: Brain Blimp

"Brain Blimp" by Curtis Settino

“Brain Blimp” by Curtis Settino


Brain Blimp

I have painted a painting of you,
a portrait, so to speak.

I have painted your brain, or rather
I have made a painting of your brain.

It’s on the wing, so to speak.
I’ve portrayed it not as bird
but as blimp, powered by rocket box

adorned with an eyeball
and soaring above blue water
against blue sky over the loam.

You may not see the resemblance.
You may wonder why I did not
simply ask you to sit in a chair
so that I could paint your exterior,
the features of your face, with
special attention perhaps to your eyes
and the way your hair sits there
on your head
doing what hair does.

You might even be wearing a hat.

Instead, I painted what I imagine
in my mind’s rocket box eyeball,
so to speak, the part of me that sees
the part of you that can’t be seen,
the inside part, the grey matter part
where sparks fly with infinite possibility
above blue water against blue sky
over the loam, blimp-like, where
everything happens and the world
is made and remade and shaped
and reshaped.

I must confess that my
mind’s rocket box eyeball is in actual
fact represented here as the rocket
box eyeball that bears your brain
aloft, because that’s how I have
come to understand the way we
work, the way my eye rocket box
bears your mind aloft, the way, so to speak,
I have carried you and you have
thought for me through infinite
possibility above blue water against
blue sky over the loam, blimp-like.
I have painted your brain.
I have painted a painting of you

and I, too, am in it.
I’m really in it.


(This poem was performed at the Gallery 114 event, “Ekphrastasy,” at DeskHub on October 9, 2015. Seven poets responding the paintings of Rich Powers, Curtis Settino, and Jerry Wellman).

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

#127: Giant Boy Scoops Up Unsuspecting Bikers Off The Beach


The Bikers were minding their own business,
standing around their bonfire,
working super hard to keep it going
despite the occasional and violent rain,
causing no harm, no disturbance,
when a giant boy in red sweat pants
and a black hoodie scooped them off
the beach and tossed them into the ocean
to a group of hungry Oregon sea lions.
In a fit of joyous hilarity, the giant boy
in red sweat pants and a black hoodie
took off like hell down the beach
against the rain, into the wind,
laughing diabolically.


Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry