Ekphrastic Poems


Jonathan Penton


These poems are based on pieces in the New Orleans Sculpture Garden.  The title of the poems are taken from the title of the sculptures. 





Sitting Figures (2)


Lynn Chadwick

British, 1914-2003

Sitting Figures (2), 1979-80


Gift of Sydney and Walda Besthoff, 98.131

Installation funded by Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Reily Jr.




I have been faceless, now, for ten thousand years.

It is neither punishment nor reward.

Look at me:

          I promise I can look back.

Everything works within me

          as well as inside you:

I have lost something you need,

          but I remain content.


Have you seen my arms, my legs, my breasts?

They’re a little unusual, I grant you.

I am not afraid to be proud of them.






Heroic Man


Gaston Lachaise

British, born in France, 1882-1935

Bronze, edition 1/6

Gift of Syndey and Walda Besthoff, 2000.209

Installation funded in memory of Mrs. Richard W. Freeman




My skull is very small.

Everyone notices.

People describe me as having a wisdom of the body.

In some mouths, that means I’m beautiful.

In all mouths, that means I’m a fool.


Now I am scarred.

Covering one arm

both shoulderblades

down one scapula.

Now the wisdom of my body is keloid.

My skull no longer houses the windows to my soul.






Large Pulcinella


Sorel Etrog

Canadian, born in Romania, 1933

Large Pulcinella, 1965-67


Gift of Sydney and Walda Besthoff, 99.132

Installation funded by William and Jane O’Malley




This lockdown


the point.


My blade

is one

with my crossguard.


The guard

is hopelessly



This frustration

is more than

a symptom.









In 1998, Jonathan Penton founded UnlikelyStories.org, an electronic journal of literature and art.  Since then, he has lent editorial and management assistance to a number of literary and artistic ventures, such as MadHat, Inc., the New Orleans Poetry Festival, Rigorous, and Big Bridge.  In 2005 he founded Unlikely Books. His poetry books are Last Chap (Vergin’ Press, 2004), Blood and Salsa and Painting Rust (Unlikely Books, 2006), Prosthetic Gods (New Sins Press/Winged City Chapbooks, 2008), Standards of Sadiddy (Lit Fest Press, 2016), and the free e-chap BACKSTORIES, which you can download from Argotist e-books.  He lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. 



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