An Ekphrastic Experience…

Prompt for the GRPG

I would like to credit the owner of this photo, but know nothing other than its signature. It is a great photo, nonetheless.

If this is Ekphrastic, which I’ve heard recently described as one of the ugliest words in the English language, then what follows is the complete irony. It also demonstrates what little fodder poets need to inspire them to feats of great imagination and great poetry.

It is thanks to Shan Ellis-Williams, poet and established author, who has recently provided some inspiring picture prompts, that has moved us to write poetry that otherwise would not have been written.

Abigail Baker

“War Horse”

This is how I see you
in my dreams, my nightmare,
all traces of softness
swept away by the ravages.
Your still, standing, skeletal form
reminds me we both lost
the days before the skies
were scorched funeral black,
as your now cold coal heart.
Your clock hands are frozen
a bitter pill memento to fear
paralysed by this phantom
an abject failure to treasure
this most precious of our gems.
Today I shall kiss your velvet
feast my eyes upon your flames,
so when our time had past
I shall stand tall and smile
without a shred of regret.


Jacqueline Dick

Horseman of the Apocolypse
one of you dissented
this was your lot
the punishment is
a vision of decay
of a noble yesteryear
a darkness
forever crying
from your soul
waiting for the steed
that will never come
cast into the Neverland
rider and
in eternal search.


Shan Ellis

Out of the war he was birthed,
Steampunk stallion soldier
feared nothing for live ammo or radiation beams.

As synthetic melancholy
purged all beats of organic thought

he stood

and watched
enraptured by the rain.


Marsha Berry

You died once,
shot through the heart
by greed and anger,
eaten by gluttony,
buried with sloth,
not on the third day
but the fourth
by pride;
unsated with lust
the charioteer
hitched your tired bones
and drove you once more
into the field of envy
over and over


John Anstie

“The Battle”

Her gentle hand enwrapped his nose
and pulled it to her face.
Behind his nostril, where there is
the very softest place,
she kissed him tenderly and smelt
the scent of peerless blood
that coursed his veins and caused his mane
to tremble with a power
that came from generations of
highbred aristocracy.
This kind of power was visible,
it rippled like a lake
that caught a sudden gust of wind,
and shimmered, glistening.

He’d knightly strength for greater things
and so it proved to be.
A friend of friends, an officer,
had visited to see
and beamed at his magnificence
there was no doubt for him
that this beast was set to ride
for glorious history…

…until his inglorious return,
a sight that broke her heart.

His eyes had depth of understanding
she knew too well. Their look,
injected as they were with fear,
but not the normal kind
– the kind that came from healthy gallops
over his favourite fell.

No. This fear, its source was made
… what she saw then choked her eyes …
from inner visions of
an unspeakable kind of hell;
mud-filled craters’ stench of death,
through endless shock of shell, but
unshakeable loyalty to his charge
despite his spirit’s knell.

In time the empty frame that stood
motionless in the field,
with timeless care she tended him,
though never fully healed
the scars that stiffened weary spirit
that caused him so much pain,
but filled with love and trust once more
the noble steed regained
a hint of what he used to feel:
excitement for the day,
security in his domain,
where once he held full sway;
desire that burned in his dark eyes
to lead her in his way
back to the stable where he’d sink
his nose in soft sweet hay.


To quote Shan’s words, I am astounded at how a single prompt can produce such an amazing response from an amazing bunch of people – Hail the GRPG!!

Please note that all copyright to the above works rests wholly with its respective owner.

About PoetJanstie

“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult” ~ Hippocrates. As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life. His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream! His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man. What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle. His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”
This entry was posted in animals, Collaboration, courage, Heroes, Hope, Injury, Love, melancholy, nostalgia, poem, poetry, sadness, War, Wonder. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to An Ekphrastic Experience…

  1. John, thank you so much for your visit. I have just started reading the posts on this blog and I am feeling very humbled by the knowledge of what I don’t know about what’s going on in the world of poetry. Words like ekhphrastic and literary allusion are new to me. I hope to learn a lot more in the coming days.


  2. Louise says:

    Ah, the horse one…awesome! 🙂


  3. Pingback: This can’t be as Ugly as an Ekphrastic Experience…? « Musings and Smatterings

  4. marousia says:

    Thank you, John, for putting this together – I am enjoying rereading the poems the prompt inspired 🙂


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