October 23, 2013

Neil Ellman

 Erasing the Past

(after the painting by Larry Rivers)

It’s not as if
the end of a pencil
can erase
what has been
the past
written in ink
in a firm hand
on vellum’s time

remnants remain
of another life
other lives
indelible images
carved in stone

the past is what
it is, always was
will always be
without the hand
of man.

Shadow with Pelvis and Moon

(after the painting by Georgia O’Keeffe)

The moon casts a shadow
of bone
where the pronghorn grazed
and died

death flies, resurrected
on desert winds
from a raven’s nest—

red sun, red ghost
spreads its shadow
on the copper hills.


(after the painting by Max Ernst)

No one lives here anymore
where nothing happened or ever will.
The trains stopped running
when the people fled.
They left nothing of themselves.
There are no pictures on the walls
nothing of art or poetry
nothing on the cupboard shelves.
The rooms are filled with dust
suspended in the air
like dissipated stars.
The furniture was burned for fire
before the end.
So, too, the books.
Here and there a light bulb hangs
lifeless from a cord.
They left nothing when they disappeared
into the cracks between the boards
with neither signs nor testaments
to say that they were ever here.


Neil Ellman has published numerous poems in print and online journals, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world. Many of them are ekphrastic and based on works of modern art. When he retired from public education, he found the time and a method to combine his love of poetry and art.

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