Friday, August 08, 2014


—Painting by Paul Klee, 1935

—Neil Ellman, Livingston, NJ

(after the painting by Paul Klee)

We are caught by prying eyes
In the indiscretions of our lives
like fish in a net woven of our own design
easy prey for the fishers
who angle in the dark
and the mongers
who sell their daily catch
to the lowest bidder in the crowd—
a lapse, a bit of foolishness
and we are served upon a plate
as an entrée
to be eaten to the bone.


—Neil Ellman

(after the painting by Eddie Martinez)

     From the chimera
in the gut
(tenuous, ephemeral
like air, last breath
of a dying man
first words of love
the envy that lingers
on the tongue)
     build an artifice
of brick and steel
(smooth glass gargoyles
glistening in the sun
as if they were just
as genuine and real
as love).

Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale
—Painting by Max Ernst, 1924

—Neil Ellman

(after the painting/construction by Max Ernst)

So much innocence
in the nightingale’s song
sweet syllables
so many words
conceal intent
malevolence disguised
in soft feathers and softer sound
while the children play
with their dolls and toys
the forever bird of night
spreads its dragon-wings
its tongue on fire
twittering syllables
of death from the air—     
how easily deceived
by eloquence are they
who play at their games
below a blood-red sun.


—Neil Ellman

(after the painting by Richard Pousette-Dart)

From the mouth
of divinity
a word
from omniscient eyes
a world
from radiant energy
a universe
from disarray
the mind—
nothing to something
to shape
only in faith
a soul.


—Neil Ellman

(after the painting by Giorgio de Chirico)


Too few times the Muses
interrupt my waking hours
with magical words
too many times disturb my dreams
with creatures of the air
that vanish like a whisper
from my lips.


They haunt me in my sleep
follow me through labyrinthine
caves of doubt
taunt me with their marble eyes
pretend to make me feel and be
but give me neither breath
nor words.


Too few times the Muses
speak to me in darkness not in light
too many times I am left
without their shadow-words
that would complete my life.

 Magic Mirror
—Painting by Paul Klee, 1934

—Neil Ellman

(after the painting by Paul Klee)

The magic mirror
with a memory its own
re-creates a vision of my face
from some other time
so long ago
my eyes were fire
like candles in the dark
and skin as taut
as canvas stretched
upon a frame
I lived for the moment
and let It pass
without a thought
of consequence
so very long ago
when I was young
but still the mirror
in its magic memory
holds my image as it was.


—Neil Ellman

(after the painting by Paul Klee)

In the merger of opposites
two suns separated by
each other’s place in stars
one of dark
the other light
collide in the ambivalence
of the night
their home in the darkness
of the in-between
two brothers at odds
with themselves
but so much alike
forever and ever
but never the same
as when they were born.

 The Place of the Twins
—Painting by Paul Klee, 1929

UNTITLED (Forgotten Game)
—Neil Ellman

(after the boxed construction by Joseph Cornell)

We played
his Wac-a-Mole fantasy
with rules his own
nor understand
with a point for this
another for that
without a point 
we played to win
without the hope of victory
in a world our own
without a seeming end
or chance
we have forgotten
why we played
or if it were a game at all.


Today's LittleNip:

(Anniversary, August 8)

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Rain showers
on a murdered bird,
a skeleton
by the fountain,
the blood thinning
of a generation,
and lifeless flowers
not in the picture
of a landscape;
there are no heroes
at Hiroshima,
only 1945 paper cranes
released into the wind,
for remembrance.



(The blinding flash and massive explosion of the bomb)
—Painting by Yamada Sumako, who was 20 yrs. old
in August, 1945
From an MIT exhibit called 
"Ground Zero 1945: Pictures by Atomic Bomb Survivors"
featuring art from those who witnessed 
the atomic destruction of Nagasaki
and Hiroshima