Aphrodisiac, by Debi Swim


Jan Davidsz de Heem, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon

by Debi Swim

A glass of Moscato Giallo,
lemon slice,
Muscat grapes,
oysters on the half shell waits
for my love’s sweet lips.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy poet. She blogs at Georgeplace Poetry by Debi Swim.


The Storm, by Nancy Iannucci

1880_Pierre_Auguste_Cot_-_The_Storm (1)

Pierre Augustus Cot, The Storm (1880)

The Storm
by Nancy Iannucci

We kept walking one
warm Wednesday morning,
woefully walking,
conversing, traversing
away from the city of Toulouse-
distance was a shield from prying eyes,
eyes and mouths attached to crowds
who longed to separate us.

We reached our favored
meeting place under
a canopy of draping trees
miles from the road.
Side by side we sat
like primitive cave dwellers
who lacked civilized restraint.

I’m the shepherd, but she tends me,
maneuvers my soul into a swell
of honorable indecency;
I’m a doltish man under her touch
as our thighs gently grazed then pulsed.

She came
to agree to leave France
with me
after weeks of furtive

I brushed the sweat
from her golden hair-
under wafts
of her sweet
lavender scent.

She took the horn from my side
and impishly blew a farewell tune
to Toulouse;
dark clouds instantaneously
rolled in like the French army.

“We should leave now!” I said
draping her yellow cloak
over our heads as if to
parachute away to the gods.

Our thighs pulsed once more;
my shepherd instincts dominated
as I tended my luscious lamb towards safety;
airily secure under her alabaster slip,
my hand steered below her left breast.

And so we loped
not from The Storm
but from this cruel city–

Process notes: I was captivated by Pierre-Auguste Cot’s paintings many years ago while sitting through my first art history course in college. There was no turning back from that point on. Each painting evokes a powerful feeling of romance, mystery, and enchantment. I want to live in his paintings.

Nancy Iannucci is a historian who teaches history and lives poetry in Troy, NY. She has always been entranced by the mysticism of life and the fine line that exists between our world and the mystical. She feels, at times, like she inhabits some place in the middle and express herself through writing trying to reconcile her own existence in between these two realms; her work has been published by Performance Poets Association, Three Line Poetry, and Faerie Magazine (photography).

Nighthawks, by Vivienne Blake

by Vivienne Blake


Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (1942)

A strange and lonely cityscape –
no cars, no crowds, just a young couple
bickering quietly about nothing
or maybe newly-met lovers
encased in a romantic bubble.

The solitary man
wonders about them, who they are,
what they’re doing in this dead-alive dive,
far from the bright lights
and the city bustle.

The weary waiter
is eager for his shift to end.
No tips from this lot, that’s for sure.
With business this slow
is his job in trouble?

Around the corner a hobo gazes,
envying the warmth within.
He turns away, creeping
towards his park bench home
with shivering shuffle.

Process Notes: I have always loved paintings by Edward Hopper since I was a small girl, sitting under the table leafing through Saturday Evening Posts at my Grandmother’s, while the adults watched television, which I found boring. His paintings always seem to tell a story.

Vivienne Blake makes quilts and poems and stories in her small village home in Normandy. Her slow and wobbly rambles often appear in the poetry. Finding the sublime in the mundane is her aim. Her work has been published in Curio Poetry, Mouse Tales, Red Wolf Journal, Long Story Short, The Book of Love and Loss and other anthologies.

Fall 2015 Issue 7: Making Art

Red Wolf Journal Issue 7 (Fall 2015)
Our theme: “Making Art”

Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon-high res

Cover art: Jan Davidsz de Heem, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon

The poet, like the painter, needs to dwell in worldly things. As poets, you are engaged with language– words that often express relationships. As a person I am terribly interested in how we interact with objects. Their role is to anchor us in a personal and collective history. Art commemorates this such as through a still life painting. Our cover of Dutch painter Jan Davidsz de Heem’s painting, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, was the subject of contemplation by American poet Mark Doty—how art stages a dialogue with reflexivity and represents pleasures of shapes, colors, textures and tastes, all held in “the generous light binding together the fragrant and flavorful productions of vineyard, marsh and orchard”. How does art move us? When we take in the lushness of the oysters, the transparency of the grapes, the tangy curls of lemon, Doty says we’re moved into “some realm where it isn’t a thing at all but something just on the edge of dissolving. Into what? Tears, gladness…Taken far inside.” Art holds us there, to be instructed, held in intimacy as it were, in an experience of tenderness, of warmth and presence.

Likewise good poems give us resonating images. The poet brings to his art a making of connections, yoking subjectivity to objects. In bringing memory and desire to the surfaces of things, language transforms objects into stories. A good poem dives into the interior. The past is often in the present. All is heightened awareness and ultimately the poem delves and then brings readers into something greater than their own consciousness. What making art does. It transcends the personal into a kind of impersonality which is Truth, which is God.

So in this issue, we invite poems that make art. You may interpret it however you wish—ekphrastic poems? Yes we love that. But not only that. Poems that have startling imagery. Poems that lay bare the process of making art. Poems that embody a certain aesthetic. Even haikus. (Coming from one who hardly writes haikus.) To me the best poems are the ones that reflect the aesthetic of your soul. To paraphrase Doty, “what stands before darkness stands close together” and is ultimately unparaphrasable.

Poems that treat objects as subjects. But are they really? Isn’t the perceiver the real subject? When you describe, what you describe then is “consciousness, the mind playing over the world of matter, finding there a glass various and lustrous enough to reflect back the complexities of the self that’s doing the looking” (Mark Doty, The Art of Description: World Into Word, 2010). How wondrous art is, and how one may find true solace in art.


Interpret the theme however you wish. Submit poems to us by email here.


Please review the submission guidelines and then send us your poems in the body of an email.

Poems will be published in ongoing posts on this site. Each posting will be announced on the Red Wolf Journal page on Facebook. Your poem may be published at any time from August to October 2015 so please check back here. If you do not see your poem(s) appear, you may deem it as not accepted for publication. We will not be sending out any acceptance or rejection letters.

The entire collection will be released in PDF format in due course. An announcement will be made at that point.

Irene Toh and Tawnya Smith
Fall 2015 Editors