Inklight is a meeting place for words and images. We invite photographers to submit their work and writers to respond creatively.
Our published pairings, below, are examples of ekphrasis, in which writers respond creatively to artists’ images.
Image by Keith Johnson; poem by Ralph Black
The Genesee Flows North (2016) by Keith Johnson
Becoming River (After Keith Johnson) by Ralph Black
The sky above the river
is crumpled tin. The water
below is tin, a hammered-out river
gesturing north, a square foot
of incremental river
brushing green into gray water,
blue-slate slabs of river
currenting the way rivers
seldom move. The eye
takes in the river’s
sluicing body, the hand
calligraphies the rusted arm,
the rucked sway of the water’s
corrugations, all shoulder
and spine, all hip and backflex
where the river’s
palette unspools like a river.
Throw a stone into the river
and the water goes stone.
Let a deadfall drop into the water
and the river turns to limb
and leaf. Toss in a story
and the story becomes riverwater
falling and rising at once,
a still life that never stills,
a river becoming river.
Photograph by Fred Chalub I Poem by Kelly Kenyon
Children of the Night by Kelly Kenyon
We were always the dreamers
Reading palms and catching stars
Listening to the fortune tellers in the dark
But we made our own luck
Knees dusted in dirt and irises glittering with
Running through the night
Drinking rain and ready to fight
But our hopes got too big to hold
And these things are dangerous
The scent of a memory
The whispers of stolen time
Of fallen things
Lost things washed ashore
Things left behind
We hold ourselves together
Or at least we try
This world spins too fast
And our jar of dreams
shatters on the floor
The things we can’t hold in our hands anymore
Now we’re breaking
into colors that don’t exist
Maybe it’s our silver lining on the clouds rolling in
So here’s to the dreamers
building castles in the sky
At least we’ll say we tried
Photograph by Theresa Redmond I Poem by Lindsey Allgood
What is Left
by Lindsey Allgood
You are barely
A body of veins now
A shell of you
I’ve left you
A pungent womb.
A decaying shadow
You made me cry
I picked you bare
And took you for granted
Left you in pieces
But I am thick skinned
Because of you
Photograph by Duncan Hill I Poem by Vicky Plestis
The Subway As I Found It
By Vicky Plestis
Graffiti, rust, the blush
of a man’s arm pressed up
to my back, the lurch
of the car, deep exhale,
doors open to dark
and still the packed heat
of our bodies, hundreds,
as the train jimmies
forward through tunnel,
cement and shadows,
dirt and rush and the lust
for movement, soft brush
skin each time it jerks
and we stumble, yes
touch me there, touch me
there again, like that.
I won’t ever go back
to clean-cast rooms,
mother’s taut jaw, tense
arms scrubbing dirt
gone with ammonia
rags. Someone else
can keep her stone-faced
home, but I will ride
the underground and
I will do it alone.
Photograph by Conrad Maletah I Poem by Erica Fardette
By Erica Fardette
I died yesterday, a century, eons ago.
My song is a resounding silence.
Beautiful, you think I should be in the dirt, the rock, the primal hum of the earth.
Look closely–it’s your heart spilling onto the stone
and I am you projected backwards,
a stratum of your thoughts.
Photograph by Antonio J. Martinez I Poem by Dylan Weir
By Dylan Weir
Boys will be boys
boys will be toy soldiers. boys will be metal, immobile, mutable, plastic
boys will be imitating fathers. boys will be wondering why father’s not around
boys will be excused and excuses, accused and abused. boys will be silent
boys will be falling and failing in love. boys will be bruised, harbor hatred for the one that scraped their knees and boys will be doing the same
boys will contrive self, stone cold, oppose the ‘softer’ sex for the rest of their lives
boys will be defense always. rifle up, feet planted ready to be attacked, boys will never be naturally
able to speak up
boys will be forever trying to be boys. no Barbie dolls for an impossible model just Batman, the Hulk, athletes the size of titans, dinosaur fossils cut like statues carved
boys will never admit that this is the measuring stick
the square box for masculinity
they want their circle to fit
boys will not always be
Photograph by Christine Shank I Poem by Alex Bleecker
to Untitled by Christine Shank
By Alex Bleecker
It’s the pin what’s so interesting.
Did it pierce the fetal lung
going in, down, and through the sac
before it tacked upon the wall?
Or was the organ given
to the iron thing–a gift to spill air
into shadowy display–a piece
of cherry bubble gum,
the flavor chewed away?
Photograph by Ratna Khanna I Poem by Alarie Tennille
The Serial Killer Next Door
by Alarie Tennille
Neighbors never notice.
He blends in like a house clad
in mirrors. No one witnesses
the suffocating darkness
within or draws close enough
to listen. You think he returns
your waves. He merely copies
your moves, shows you
what you want to see.
Photograph by Theresa Redmond I Poem by Sara Tantlinger
Apart in Layers
By Sara Tantlinger
I am caught
between your fingertips,
trembling in featherweight
shivers as you press the flat side
of your blade against me,
shed me into the thin layers
I leave on the cold linoleum floor–
a pathway that crunches like autumn’s
leafs and leads into winter’s darkness.
You peel me
in smooth waves that cascade
onto my drying flesh, and I absorb
the salt of your tears like a leech
as you contemplate slicing me,
think of devouring or smashing
me into smears with the strength
of your fist-heavy temper that
seeps from your open pores.
I am skinned,
But you are exposed.
Photograph by Joel B. McEachern I Poem by Harmony Button
By Harmony Button
A fetching lot, bedside: have
wet rings from the water glass an
hot marks from the tea other
splotches from the cool rag and
half moons of wine dripped deep a
into the woodgrain, worn off linseed ‘nother
dull in the dull gleam half
of summertime, evening my
an open window: glow of corn crop mother
government pays us not to grow half
so have another some
have an other other
this is not the road have
you wanted, anyhow. another
Photograph by Siera I Poem by Trina Young
to love a fighter
By Trina young
I want to pour milk into the shadows on your skin, let it seep in and make you
smooth. Even when sleeping you’re ready for a fight; your frown, your furrowed
brows, the tensed muscles in your back make craters. I take your fist and uncurl
the fingers. You clench so hard you draw blood. The copper stains match those
on your knuckles. I hold your palm to my chest, inhale your regret. How hard
it must be to live angry all the time. The secrets you try to keep from me
are revealed by your hands. They whisper to me the horrors of being a man.
We play house. I take the role of mother, you of sullen teenage son.
You only let your guard down once, after the connection of your punch to
a stranger thrust the hurt out. With it gone all that was left was the fear
of hitting a temple too hard. You pretend you want to know what it’s like
to kill, but those fearful tears you spilled say otherwise. I let you leave
my lap damp and now all you can do is slam doors in my face. Maybe I
should be the one to finally knock you out. Imagine the relief of dropping
that weight, your neck bouncing off the floor. It stings, but oh, how you float.
Photograph by Ethel Kambourian I Poem by Heidi St. Jean
bBy Heidi St. Jean
A hand is raised, subtext is stop.
But nothing stops.
All is motion, mist, movement.
This is why people come
to keep plowing on, to keep
nothing close, to let it all rise—
rise to the top.
To stop, to settle, is to sink—
think about it. Who parks
in the city unless visiting?
Pity in the city park—open space
place where all drops
to the bottom, in the falling dark,
and it’s a sign—like the upraised hand—
like the upraised chin, the kneeling grin, lifting
a petition, a prayer above the subway stairs,
leading down underground where the trains
snake plainly, read the signs—they’re everywhere.
City of invisibility, where buildings host the souls
of the living and the still-swirling dead;
ghosts line windows, watching,
as one more becomes an outline,
flashing—on, bright—then flashing—
Photograph by Jonathan Johnson I Poem by William Monteith
By William Monteith
Burnt crumpled landscapes
Scorched for your inspiration
gently fall from grace
Photograph by Yvonne Venegas I Poem by Marcus Civin
By Marcus Civin
His father’s suicide,
He stood with the news in the tile sunroom;
a succulent bottom-watered,
a wicker sofa,
the man’s musty books.
Older than his father managed to be,
Relationships were toothy:
tearing bills in the mornings;
milk on dark wood.
He and his bear would get to the end of the road with a water bottle.
They were going to build a house of cards.
Photograph by Rachel Vanni I Poem by W. Scott Howard
By W. Scott Howard
Nights into nets, paper bodies
cast, invoking elliptical
A stranger’s blush, someone undone,
foreseen through another’s disguise.
I have no practice or habit
for you in this, no difficult
making of loss to weave this craft:
hollow, buoyant, sheer bitter fruit
dispersed, letters in disarray.
Instead of deft kidnaps until
dawn, here—in which, at the very
least—pay attention to our love.
I’ll never know how to translate
your swift, imbricate translucence.
In this tryst of happenstance for
elsewhere & otherwise, occur
alone; be found astonishment.
Photograph by Dominic Rouse I Bridget Price
By Bridget Price
I must be lost if that is sunlight
in this sinking city of pearls.
What is beyond these walls but thirsty desert and broken cactus?
I hear her twist before the alarm sounds.
I hear her rip her skirt up and dance sweat.
I hear her boots scrape concrete and scream bloody murder.
The city drops. A clock ticks.
She lights a cigarette.
Inspects her stomach.
Sucks her stomach in.
Inspects her thighs.
Checks if they touch in the middle.
Pokes at the tops of her arms.
“Does it shake when I wave?”
The mirror swings.
A silent scream.