In Other Words (A Dark Ekphrastic)

So if you were to ask me what’s on my mind today as I write, I’d have to say Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy’s fifth novel. I’ve read two other of his novels, The Road and Child of God, and just this past Tuesday after a sixteen-year hiatus, his newest novel, The Passenger was released (to be read). He has a lot to say against the backdrop of the Bible, human history, Western literature, and it’s all about the human heart, the worst of it, the meager remnants of conscience in preserving “civilization,” the struggle against Evil. It’s no mystery why Blood Meridian has been compared to Melville’s Moby Dick. There’s no call to be smug about being just human. And the shame only comes when we ignore the divine, the image of God in each of us.

you say, everything’s not black and white,
drawing white shades over black night
in a ghost town where folks walk on tight-
ropes past the presidio’s edge, swallowing fright.

you say, there are safety nets, nobody gets hurt
not even ones on the highest wires lose their shirt
c’mon, a little dunk in a cesspool as you hit the dirt,
an umbrella in case of rain, keep your poise, insert

[sounds off screen, fade to …]

life: blood red.


“Helpless Beings” Image from Piccsy.com for Carrie’s The Sunday Muse; Day 10 (“Ghost Town”) of Sammi’s 13 Days of Samhain; and Sammi’s WWP #283: “Dunk,” 78 words exactly.

40 thoughts on “In Other Words (A Dark Ekphrastic)

  1. Oh my, don’t look down. Perhaps a balancing pole should replace the umbrella? Gordon Lightfoot sang something about high-stepping strutters who land in the gutters, but someone else said we are all of us in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. Keep your eye on that North Star and keep on truckin.

    –Shay

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  2. Wow I love where the image took your poetry Dora, and drawing white shades over black night is a brilliant line! You really are a prolific reader my friend! That is truly amazing! Always glad to see you at the Muse my friend!

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    1. Your image choices are truly intriguing, Carrie. I don’t know how you find them but I’m truly grateful you challenge us this way. 🙂🌹 I do tend to bend the prompt into the book I’ve just put down though, so it’s probably more challenging (read:discombobulating!) to the reader to figure out what the heck I’m on about. Hence, the preface. 😅😂

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      1. I always enjoy your poetry Dora! Choosing the images is totally a fun process. I have different places I search and save images. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead my friend!

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    1. Isn’t it? It made me wonder what was going through the graphic artist’s mind and ended up transmuting it to the darkness of a novelist’s (McCarthy’s) vision. Both make us think of the world as it is and the way we think it is.

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    1. I admit the relentless savagery is tiring. But “See the child” is the opening sentence of the book and “the kid” grows into “the man” who seems at last to have a pineal gland of a conscience.

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  3. A richly atmospheric poem, Dora. Love how it meanders through and the way it ends, very dark! You weren’t joking. I chose the same image and went elsewhere with it, it’s nice to see how others interpreted it 🙂

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    1. Thank you Jimmy. And he is scary. McCarthy gives him a decidedly supernatural tinge as an agent of chaos, an ancient enemy. The novel is much more disturbing than I expected, historically based as it might be.

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