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Two Poems by Neil Ellman

Attacked by Birds

(after the painting by André Masson)

Whatever reason is, if there is, for the malevolence of birds

born of proto-feathers even before they had wings

something in the marrow of their bones

commands attack as much to fly,

talons to hold, beaks to tear, not for sustenance alone

or evolution’s shrill and shriek

they know what they are and the reason why

there is sense in the senselessness of blood.

The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself

with Her Shadows

(after the painting by Man Ray)

She is never alone

alone on the rope

stretched between

her birth and death.

She accompanies herself

herself while alone

barely herself

alone with death.

They barely speak

her shadows and she

they move together

as if they were one.

They are joined

at their fate

she followed by she

to their death below.

Neil Ellman has been nominated for thePushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Hundreds 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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