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Ekphrastic Poems by Neil Ellman
Vol. 11


Battle of the gods that have been transformed

Battle of the gods that have been transformed

painting by Ernst Fuchs



There are gods

that have been changed

from supermen,

kings and queens

with royalty and vanity

in their veins

to falcons, lions

and unspeakable beasts

lording over their worlds;

but changed as well

to children,

little boys and girls

battling with sticks,

swords and words

for candy corn and treats

on the playing fields

of Tartarus and Elysium -

hardly transformed

gods will be gods

after all.



a line, (a blue one)


The Tyranny of Time

Tryranny of Time by Willaim Higginson

painting by William Higginson



In the confinement of space

I am a prisoner of illusion

and chained to my fate

a supplicant without privilege

or a will of my own

bound by a tyrant’s greed

for allegiance, obedience

and love.


It decrees, I obey

It flows with inexorable speed,

I follow in tow;

Its music is struck

by the plectrum in my hand

at war with the warp of time

I draw my sword.


Time, a tyrant , absolute,

without emotion,

indulgence or sympathy

and I a captive of its law.



a line, (a blue one)


Separation in the Evening

Separation in the Eveneing by Paul Klee

painting by Paul Klee



As separate beings

but for our limbs entwined

our lips together

we think of others

like Orpheus and Eurydice

Leda and the swan

who came before

in another time

as we imagine the ecstasy

of might-have-been

in this moment

when we are coupled

with our separate thoughts.



a line, (a blue one)


Summer Madness

Summer Madness by Cy Twombly

painting by Cy Twombly



Madness is just another turn of phrase

a simile hung up to dry

like old clothes

and the skins of slaughtered sheep

on cat-gut wire


Like the scent of heat

rising from bricks and cobblestones

like the shapes of love

and their infinite words

repeated time and time again

from balconies and alleyways

like the messages

told in the chatter of stars

like a vision in a vision

of a disembodied face

like the summer

madness comes and goes

an uninvited guest who arrives

when he pleases and stays too long.



a line, (a blue one)



Bacchus by Elaine de Kooning

painting by Elaine de Kooning



The blood of the vineyards

flows through his veins.


in a time for the ecstasy

of pouring wine


his theophany came

in the evening sky


I drank to his presence

in an arid world


drank until dawn

when he was consumed


and I became a god like him

consumed by my faith


in the miracle of the harvest

from the vine




a line, (a blue one)


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