(after the painting by Cy Twombly)
Written in fire
sparks fly in chaotic licks
the babble of nations
indiscriminate flares of
history out of control—
so many possibilities
of alphabets and words
struggling to be heard
in stuttering crackles of
before they are
TSTmpj: Fire is such an enduring symbol, dating back to the origins of humankind. How are you, as a poet, warmed by it?
Neil Ellman: Not exactly "warmed" but "intrigued" by fire and the notion that the seemingly random licks of a flame might be predictable in some sort of mathematical chaos model—but I'm a poet, not a mathematician.
TSTmpj: Would you care to offer more thoughts on the concept of "history out of control?"
Neil Ellman: It seems to me that what we call history is full of distortions and untruths, and that there are many versions of the "facts," whatever they are. I keep thinking of the line, "History is written by the victors" and wonder if we can ever know historical truth—but I'm a poet, not an historian.
TSTmpj: Do you see a future of more "alphabets and words," or fewer, in a figurative sense?
Neil Ellman: No, not much of a future, especially as the world's cultures become increasingly homogenized—but I'm a poet, not a prophet.
Neil Ellman has published more than 300 ekphrastic poems in journals throughout the world—from Australia to Zimbabwe.