Category Archives: The Arts

Multicultural Art and Poetry

Black History Month: Keepin’ It Real on Race – by David B. Grinberg

James Baldwin, the 20th century black intellectual, renaissance author and cultural critic, once observed: “History is the present. We carry our history with us. To think otherwise is criminal.”

In addition to recognizing African American trailblazers of centuries past during Black History Month, it’s also instructive to consider more recent history. That’s why a compelling new book by historian Elwood David Watson, Ph.D. is recommended reading:
Keepin’ It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America (University of Chicago Press).

Continue reading Black History Month: Keepin’ It Real on Race – by David B. Grinberg

Special Valentine’s Day – by Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher

There are many different beliefs regarding “Valentine’s Day,” and the most popular one is the celebration of love. When it became commercial; buying boxes of heart shaped chocolates and red roses, is irrelevant. I want to share with my readers why this day is so important to me.

When I was young, every year my father would come home with a box of chocolate for my mother and a beautiful card that she’d tear over. (A bit dramatic for my taste, even as a child, but I wasn’t the one reading the card and at the young age of seven, I didn’t care to.) My father would also buy me a little gift. One year he bought a little heart nick knack and I loved it. I kept it on my dresser and the red clashed with my pink bedroom walls. When my brother got older, he’d buy my mother and me a card and gift. The year he gave us both a porcelain nick knack of a little girl wearing a white dress with long braided blond hair holding a red heart against her chest, I hugged him and had been so thankful. I still have that porcelain girl today. Even at that age, those gifts had more feeling than chocolate or flowers and that’s when the day became special, until it became more so when I met my husband…

Continue reading Special Valentine’s Day – by Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher

Dancing – Poem by Michelle Young

When we have waltzed to cherry blossoms,
tangoed to tulips and daffodils,
jived to peonies and irises
and Spring has scattered her vestments to the wind,
it is time.

We meet beneath the Callery pear
and you shake her branches
while I pirouette in petal rain,
twirling and giggling
until I fall into your arms.

Image Credit: The “Lovers-Dancing-Silhouette” (designed by Vexels) has been colorized and superimposed on “Cherry Blossom Tree For Your Garden” (toplandscapedesign.com)

May – by Shloka Shankar

May

India’s hottest month,
table and ceiling fans work overtime,

never catching breath
as they drown out conversation.

I grow shadows, push
amorphous shapes down my mouth.

Children pitch tents in my uvula,
teach me how to be alive again.

May arrives each year
granting me permission to
slink away from the past,

finds me
gathering up skeletons
of discarded seconds.

Citation: Mumbai skyline (Rinsol.com) is superimposed on abstract art of Steve Johnson (Unsplash.com)

Turn over the morning – by Shloka Shankar

morning

hour
and a thousand

others on the side.
Tell us something [inspired]
in the darker,

gloomier corners—
the way you drown
in secrets,

pulling and stretching
a dim shadow of

nothing, nothing, nothing
in blackness.

_______________________________________________________________________
A cut-up/remixed poem composed from several chapters of Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews.

Image credit: black abstract wallpaper (hdblackwallpaper.com)

Prayer on a Friday Morning – Poem by L.R. Harvey

 

A wispy one gets tangled up
beneath the lampshade, sets off
the smoke alarm when it flares up
in purple flame.

Another grows a pair of arms
and legs. It sprouts a healthy beard,
goes off to art school, starts living on
its own. I hear it’s opened up a studio
out on the coast of California.

A sticky one is spinning
on the ceiling fan. I try to peel him off,
to take him back, with spit,
with WD40, with lemon wipes,
but somehow still he orbits above
my head on quiet afternoons,
just watching, listening.

But how I love it when
one slips between my pores,
the kind that just evaporates,
floats past the fan
and out into the February sky,
where pigeons pluck it up like breadcrumbs.

Image credit: Dimples & Tangles Abstract Art, Abstract 2 by Jennifer Griffin

I do not ask for much – Poem by L.R. Harvey

 

To live like bicycle bells,
and grease the build-up of
a life-thick heart as I pass
on the left. The chance
to tell a porch-front cardinal
about his art, to watch him
splash a print of red on sky-
-blue canvas. To learn to see.

To spread wild the love
of clay mugs, of clocks
that tick a minute off,
of granddad’s leather shoes
toe-scuffed and sole-worn,
of children’s books.
To lose myself. To be aware.
I do not ask for Much at all,
but All.

Image Credit: vintage tea cups, photography by Martin Vorel (Libreshot.com)

Ursa Major – Poem by John C. Mannone

The Big Dipper is really Santa’s sled
freewheeling around the North Pole
through frosty stars and a red nosed
bear taking pointers from Rudolf as
his reins arc to a super giant red-eye
star, coursing through the circumpolar
tinsel of stars, a garland of firelights,
but avoiding the unwinding glittering
coil of that dragon, Draco, whose cold
aspic heart, Thuban, thumps the night,

but it’s a certain Santa & his Bears
who bring all those stardust wishes
full of hope sifted from a special star
that’s twinkling in the silent night.

[First published in Abyss & Apex (Jan 2017)]

Image credit: John C. Mannone (image design) and Camille Alvey (image production in Pixlr)

Author’s Commentary: For this American sonnet, it occurred to me that Santa’s sled and reindeer could fit the outline of the Big Dipper. To the best of my knowledge, this is an original concept.

The Big Dipper is known as the constellation Ursa majoris, the Bear, but in the Nordic tradition, it is a wagon. So in that spirit, a large sled is consistent with that image. And with Santa being in the North Pole, it is fitting that the sled points to the North Star, Polaris. [The two pointer stars—Dubhe (Arabic for bear) and Merak (Arabic for loins of the bear)—are aligned with the back of the sled.] Polaris is actually a variable star, so I imaginatively speculate that this pulsating variable could have undergone a catastrophic perturbation which caused it to suddenly shine brightly, as if the Star of Bethlehem. (I am well informed about stellar dynamics, so this conjecture is pure science fiction.) The Big Dipper is a circumpolar constellation, which means it revolves around the pole star, so it is visible throughout the night. I love the symbolism of making the pole star the Star of Bethlehem. Santa Claus, that benevolent gift-giver to children, travels all around the world while always pointing to that bright and shining star.

In star-hopping lingo, stargazers follow the stars in bend of the handle of the Big Dipper to locate a red supergiant star, Arc to Arcturus, which I find as a convenient proxy for the guiding red light (like Rudolf’s nose in the popular legend). In the image, I use poetic license with respect to scale because Arcturus would not be that close to the Big Dipper, nor would it be glowing that big and that bright!

Not shown in the image is another circumpolar constellation, Draco, whose brightest star, Thuban, is the serpentine dragon’s heart. It is in contradistinction to the goodness implied by the Star of Bethlehem. Of course, the allusion at the end of the poem to that wonderful German hymn, “Silent Night,” has special seasonal significance for some that transcends a peaceful gift-giving Santa.