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Ekphrastic Poems by Neil Ellman


The Man Who Flew Into His Own Picture

(after the room installation by Ilya Kabakov)

The Man Who Flew Into His Picture


Like a bird into a window

confused by lights

and its image on the glass


a man in feathered skin

with peregrine wings

attacked his own picture


as if it were his mortal prey

as if it were another

other than himself


he absorbed his portrait

becoming the image

of the thing he most abhorred


assuming the image

of the man in the picture

who flew too far inside himself.



a line, (a blue one)


In the Matter of Time

(after the sculpture by Richard Serra)

In The Matter of Time


Walk slowly through the torus that is time

often standing still to watch

it pass as if it were a passerby

on a summer stroll

sometimes flying like erratic swifts

on migration without a destination,

intention or an end in sight

sometimes moving on the grace

of little feet or with a tyrant’s teeth

up and down, forward and backward

spiraling to the center

where the beginning is the end

and the end its own rebirth—

for any meaning in the matter of time

walk slowly and feel the swirling wind.



a line, (a blue one)


Tomorrow is Never

(after the painting by Kay Sage)

Tomorrow is Never


Tomorrow is never another day

nor the day after the day before

only a vision, a premonition

the future obscured

as if the voice of the oracle

were whispered in smoke.


Never tomorrow, nor any day

neither Sunday nor Monday

tomorrow is never a place

a destination, resolution

in millennia’s crawl

to where it began.



a line, (a blue one)


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