Poetry by Neil Ellman

Wilder Shores of Love

(after the painting by Cy Twombly)











After the river is crossed

so many unspeakable words

so many excuses

so many photographs

torn and burned

chairs thrown

and mirrors shattered

on its wilder shore

no peaceable kingdom

no place for devotion

conciliation and love.


The other side is littered

with broken promises

fragments of concession

and accord

so little time together

and so much apart

we are left as creatures

of our inner wild.


You and I have crossed

the river too many times

but now with no way home

and nowhere else to go.


Night Form

(after the painting by William Baziotes)










In the darkness of the night

when the moon is hidden

from the iris of an eye

not even a demon has shape

nor has the mind a memory

of what it might have been

in another time.


It comes and goes with words

and embraces

the touch of an invisible force

the sounds of prayers

petitions and chains

blurred by the absence

of any light

and the far-off prospect

of the dawn.


It is a shameless thing

deceiving, deceptive

cunning and alive

as if its substance

could be measured

by a scale and caliper

as by the mention of its name

from beneath the rocks.


Time/Timeless/No Time 

(after the installation by Walter De Maria)










It moves in mysterious ways—

now a slithering snake

and then a velvet worm

hiding in the dark


with neither color nor design

neither substance nor an idea

of what it is

other than its name


now a river, then a lake

now a sea of birthing stars

then a graveyard

for the barely born


forbidding, relentless

remorseless, grim

with no memory of its birth

or premonition of its death—


the sound of a crying child

at the midnight hour

the screech an owl

and of a train

grinding to a sudden stop.