Three Poems by Neil Ellman

Na Hale ‘o Walawi

(after the installation sculpture by Patrick Dougherty)

On these hibiscus islands
floating in a blue-green pond
a wild thing grows
a monkeypod tree
with twigs and sticks
with strawberry guava
and rose apple saplings
woven around its frame
like old skin on a dying man:
such a creature this is
that inhabits a Sendak world
in the shape of extinction
waiting, withering
without its mate?


Geisha

(after the woodcut by Helen Frankenthaler)

In the flower
and willow world
the reigning
empress of desire
for centuries
holds court
kimono-clad
white-faced
chignon-tressed
she rules the realm
of lesser men
and greater gods.


Aerie

(after the silkscreen by Helen Frankenthaler)

Tangle of sticks
leaves
pieces of string
this incubator
hearth
where downy
white displaced
by wings
green-flutter
flight
and soar
easeful
as the wind.


Profile: Neil Ellman

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