#TankaTuesday #Ekphrastic Poetry

Merril D. Smith selected a Lithograph for this week’s Ekphrastic challenge. The history behind the image is interesting. It’s called, “Visitor to German Town.” Created in 1935, the image conjures the past and the present.


Following the ravages of the Great Depression in the 1930s, a growing number of homeowners were forced out of their homes. In this 1935 lithograph, artist Benton Spruance’s allegorical figure of Death, sitting on the steps of a foreclosed home, comments on the spread of vacant homes in his Germantown neighborhood.


There certainly is darkness in the image, but I saw something different. For me, the skeleton represented a late-night visit by a ghost in this cinquain.

ancestors meet
what once was, is now gone
change decomposes the living
death waits

© Colleen M. Chesebro

Or maybe this haibun about “change?”

“A Deadly Intermission”

In late 2020, Covid rolled in like a storm on the heels of the cold autumn wind. Pestilence wore the dry bones of death, rattling deep in the chests of its victims. Life as we knew it ended, and a new world grew out of the old ways of thinking.

death awaits
change your perspective
wear a mask

© Colleen M. Chesebro

32 thoughts on “#TankaTuesday #Ekphrastic Poetry

  1. I’m so pleased the print inspired you. I thought it was such a fascinating piece of art. By the way, I lived in Germantown when I was very young, but in a big house on a tree-lined street.

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    1. There was a German Town in Wisconsin, where I grew up. I lived in North Milwaukee, which was full of German, Russian, Polish, and many other European immigrants. It could have represented just about anywhere during the Depression in America, for sure.

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      1. I’m sure it could have. This Germantown goes back to the 18th century with German immigrants seeking freedom in PA. And well-to-do Philadelphians had summer houses there to get out of the city.

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      1. It is s good time to think about our ancestors. Yes, I sgree time is constantly moving, too quick sometimes.

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  2. I particularly loved the line: change decomposes the living – it’s awesome and really is a lovely focal point/descriptor in the cinquain – which is so entirely powerful! Superb!

    And thanks for offering such a fascinating image for the prompt – lovely discovery by Merril 🙂

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  3. Two things came to my mind. One the ancestral ‘dragons’ coming to help those in need – like that one animated movie ‘Mushu’. And while we have had other relatives have Covid, We just found out last night that our older son, who did get ‘shot’ tested positive and is now staying separate from his family… who also need to stay home for 14 days. Such a disruption because so many refuse to wear masks and or get their first shots. How many have to suffer for the ignorance of others? We have family in town, and more arriving, that we may not get to see now because my husband was in contact with my son. And now my husband is going to get tested, if he is positive then I will have to get tested too. I understand the hurt of the economy but we stopped being pro-active protectively too soon.

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      1. Awe, thanks. Hubby put a call into the Doc for the test. I’m not sure when that will be yet. But now we have to be extra careful – until we know. Bummer….

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