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Ekphrastic Poems by Neil Ellman


Stationary Figure

(after the painting by Philip Guston)

Stationary Figure by Philip Guston  © Philip Guston Estate


bound in cotton, 800 thread count Egyptian, waiting to be filled with natron and hot air, properly prepared for the voyage of a lifetime, one way to the sun, without a ship or rudder, still smoking those cheap cigarettes traded for bread and beer at the local bazaar, could have been killed once a beggar in the streets but now matter, Mustafa had called me a slug, I am no pharaoh watching the light bulb flicker in time to my pulse, somewhere not here the universe, somewhere another time, a reason to sleep



a line, (a blue one)


Last Piece

(after the gouache painting by Philip Guston)

Last Piece by Philip Guston


the last of it, all of them, good riddance I thought,, too many jars filled with stale air, my life like bugs crawling under the skin, how wonderful they seemed (I banish you dark angels, as if I could) even now, even now, I have come to the edge and still see them in the distance watching me through glass eyes, a dying species, me or they, the last, the first, all the same at the quantum ends of life, happy that I should never die again



a line, (a blue one)


Painter in Bed

(after the painting by Philip Guston)

Tomorrow is Never


not as if it matters, he thinks to himself, dreaming of newness, a new-born child on a white lily pad emerging from the sea, the way Dalí would have seen his birth, reincarnation, redemption, recomposition, how things turn to dreams and back like paranoiac gentlemen having tea, Earl Gray, as they watch the ebb and flow of an invisible world, it has come to this, the commonplace, the bed, a blank canvas, there is nothing new in his endless sleep where Ernst is needed most, he dreams of urinals like giraffes on fire while counting sheep



a line, (a blue one)


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