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Skeen & Zingg – Baltimore Ekphrasis Project

Mary K. Skeen and Matthew Zingg traded art and words. Mary shared this image, entitled “Paradise Lost,” with Matthew:

ParadiseLost_MSkeenIn response, Matthew wrote this poem:


what is the crescent moon but a memory
of another night a dark imagination
we cast with our earthly bodies
like a set of minor gods the men outside the market
on their corners speak again of loss
how only the abandoned pieces of the city
are best to keep the wind away
long enough for sleep
their truth is not the toothy yawn of the harbor
but more beautiful an alleyway of broken glass
a wan galaxy beneath the sodium glow
and the dark that gives itself to every vision
the selfless part of the shadows

* * * * *

Matthew shared this poem with Mary:

For Sure We Are Two Human Beings

Maybe the beached whale has a point:

we are living in the likeness of a city—
check the water tower—the sugar factory:

only pictures can do us justice:

here’s me twenty years ago in Gulf Shores

just before the evacuation—as close to the surge
as they’d let me get—I forgot to smile:

tell me—what regret doesn’t leave us
in a room we’ve just woken to:

on late rainy weeknights like this

I learn the streets are what hollow
out the corners—not the pizzeria—

not the muslin wrapped windows:

when I hear someone cough behind a door
I think of the possibilities—I think of you:

lining the summers up
like rabbit pelts—

a small girl in the bayou weaving
silver thread through your fish nets—

because the real world never fooled anyone:

maybe the whale is a couple tons of conjecture—
our bodies as prop piece

(sand plaster

rebar cage):

is it the whale then—or the word you say
to keep the whale from washing out to sea?

In response, Mary made this image, entitled “Listen”:


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