Tuesday 5 August 2014

2 Poems by Neil Ellman

The Conjurer 
(after the painting by Leonora Carrington)

What magic comes from a creature
--imagined itself—
imagining creatures no more like itself
than insects are to men
copper is to gold

What wizardry turns the phantoms of its mind
--itself a phantom of the mind—
to a flame-tongued dragon or a beast
with the devil’s horns and tail
as if its own tail were the devil’s wand

What sleight of hand can pull a unicorn
from an empty hat
what alchemy creates the universe
from infinities of empty space
turn stars to fish, fowl and men
then itself into a man’s tormented dream.

Found While Digging a Trench 
(after the etching from The War by Otto Dix)

imagining my life
in a shovelful of dirt
brittle, ossified
my future’s shape
once trembling in the hand
its wings torn off
by a spiteful child
now buried in the shallow earth
as I shall be
along with my patriotic songs
I dig my grave
Imagining my death
In a shovelful of dirt
too far away from home.


Neil Ellman, a poet from New Jersey, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Rhysling Award.  More than 950 of his poems, many of which are ekphrastic and written in response to works of modern and contemporary art, appear in print and online journals, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world.

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