This photo comes to us from Joshua C. Frank of Texas. Write an ekphrastic poem based on it and post it in the comments section below.



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20 Responses

  1. Joshua C. Frank

    My Uncle’s Fireplace

    My uncle has 4K TV
    Above his stony fireplace—
    More pixels than the eye can see
    In one square yard of TV space.
    The scenery channel broadcasts views
    Of desert night or rippling lake—
    A window you just can’t refuse
    To stare at like a hungry snake.

    When his heart gives him desire
    To sit with family and friends
    Before a crackling, roaring fire,
    How do you think this story ends?
    Does he burn logs by stony wall
    And shut the glass to keep it clean,
    Or pick up the remote control
    And watch the fire upon the screen?

    (Note: The photo really is of my uncle’s fireplace.)

    • Joshua C. Frank

      One more stanza:

      With pixels flickering red and gold,
      “Ah, toasty warm!” my uncle jokes.
      Meanwhile, the hearth below is cold
      And never crackles, never smokes.
      Then, with his phone, he snaps a pic
      Of his wall, its telling scene,
      And texts a link for us to click
      And see the view upon a screen.

  2. Stephen Dickey

    A stone hearth idles, swept, closed up and cold.
    But just above it pixels are all lit.
    Such sanitation helps get houses sold,
    Bland chic sells more than we care to admit.

    And so do photos posted on a lark.
    There are those who will compliment such kitsch
    Like cheap oils of an old, abandoned barque.
    And someone somewhere hopes to strike it rich.

    The fool’s reflection’s captured in the glass.
    His camera took what photons all dish out.
    He looks a little like a clever ass
    That doubted he would ever get found out.

    His sidekick just seems to have left him to it.
    What does she care—who’s harder to make out?
    If he won’t, someone else will aways do it,
    And some ekphrastic bastard leaves no doubt.

    I guess this will come off as mischievous since the photographer has confessed, but it was composed without that knowledge.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Actually, my uncle took the photo and sent it to us. (I look like him, though.) Either way, it’s funny.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    The modern world is ersatz through and through —
    Fake substitutes for what is real and true.

    No butter — only margarine to spread
    Upon your pseudo-wheat-grain phony bread;

    No sex with ladies — get a blow-up doll
    To be your bedmate (whether wife or moll);

    Almond milk instead of stuff from dugs —
    Saccharine in place of sugar plugs;

    In Japan you do not need a mutt —
    A robot dog will buzz around your hut;

    And here we have false fire on a screen
    While underneath a real hearth’s cold. Obscene.

    • Patricia Allred

      Joseph~Each line exposes the world and the folly we live in.
      For me, key strokes on a screen cannot replace being in the presence of another, nor a phone call.
      People are experiencing loneliness as they spend hours online.
      The latest! Eating ground insects instead of meat?
      Oh. please!


  4. Angel L Villanueva

    The flames beckon, as would light to a moth;
    The wood burns with faux crackling, sans the smoke.
    Its fragile shell remains cool to the touch
    And grants no warmth despite the burning oak.

    But modern life is made of this, a box
    From which all entertainment glows and flows.
    It even replaces that which thwarts the
    Shiver of wintry nights or frozen toes.

    Its owner now sits to bask in its light;
    Below it rests a pit no longer seen,
    The old fireplace, cold and barren of wood.
    Instead, he stares at flames on a flat screen.

  5. Mike Bryant

    In Deep South Texas, heat is not a treat,
    So air conditioning is de rigueur.
    Flames in living rooms may seem offbeat
    But roaring fires do have their own allure.

    So set the AC down to sixty-four,
    We’ll watch the pixels blazing like the sun.
    We’ll have some cocoa, hear the crackling roar
    In digital surround sound 5.1

    And next time for the perfect winter date
    I’ll put the screen atop the fireplace grate.

  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant


    Long gone, the days we reveled in the flame –
    That passion for the blush and rush of heat
    That greets the one who never yearns to tame
    The feral flare – that tiger of a treat.
    Long gone, the searing kiss on winter skin –
    The magic melt of Hestia’s joyous thaw –
    That hearth side hug that radiates within
    In crimson bursts of wonderment and awe.
    Long gone, the sensual glow of hot delight –
    Those luscious licks and flickers blazing true,
    As limbs entwine and lovers bask all night
    In scarlet hues without a tinge of blue.

    Today lost eras fade in flashy scenes
    On frigid fifty-five-inch HD screens.

  7. Mia

    Set with a surround of solid grey stone,
    It was once the hearth of the home,
    Its heaving heart, a magnet for young and old,
    Gifting all with wondrous life and warmth.
    How many tales it must have heard, that hearth,
    As it warmed occupants that sat, chatting
    Or cracking jokes, warming their hands and toes!

    Now it sits, an empty sepulchre,
    Dark, cold and morose, obscured from view
    Behind a forlorn screen to keep out
    The dust, for a more convenient fire has taken
    Centre stage. Placed right overhead, securely
    Fixed atop the stone, casting long fiery
    Shadows on the walls.

    But alas, whilst it can beam and beam it remains a villain,
    Devoid of heat and heart, for some of its other offerings
    Are often chilling, leaving icy hands clinging
    To a remote control and feet and toes chilled to the bone.
    Yet young and old are now mesmerised with
    The flickering screen, sullenly lulled, sat still and trapped
    By a deceptive fire that zaps all zeal and fries the will.

  8. Mary Gardner

    That cold, old, gray stone fireplace was here
    Back when we bought the house in ‘ninety-eight.
    Why one in homes in Florida? It’s queer
    That logs and holder, tongs and pokers, grate
    Would be a selling-point (so says the realtor).
    We’ve just three months of wintry Southern cold
    That Northern visitors call “sweater weather.”
    But since we want the house to be resold
    AND neighbors to feel at home in our place,
    We’ll keep the stony, pristine, unused hearth,
    But make our room to welcome and embrace
    With screen depicting liveliness and warmth.

  9. Mia

    Curiouser and curiouser
    Thought Alice; how can it be,
    A fire on top of the mantlepiece?
    The Cheshire Cat grinned
    On top of the tree, as if it knew
    A thing or two and Alice half
    Expected to see a giant white
    Rabbit exiting in a frightful flurry.
    It’s a rabbit warren, she thought,
    Or a dream for here there is
    Nothing to see. Now more than
    Ever convinced that in such a
    Marvellous place nothing
    Is at all what it seems.

  10. Roy E. Peterson


    Virtual reality is a woeful waste of space.
    I saw a fire burning, but not in the fireplace.
    When I saw it, I was frightened, since it was on the wall.
    I ran to the telephone to make a 9-1-1 call.
    I shouted to the owner that your place is set on fire.
    Save yourself and save your kids the situation’s dire.
    He began to laugh and say it was not reality.
    You can have your virtual, but it’s not the thing for me.

  11. Jack DesBois

    Out of the frying pan…

    This old fireplace is messy,
    And it belches CO2–
    But the flames are warm and dressy
    So I know just what I’ll do:

    Mount the screen, set up the WiFi,
    Press a button, and voila!
    Crickle-cracklings in HiFi,
    Cozy warmth you never saw.

    No more logs to lug and grumble
    At when first flames flicker out.
    No more tongs to curse and fumble,
    No more sparks to cause a shout,

    And what’s more, my carbon footprint
    Is no more, my conscience clean
    As my hearth, where not a soot-print
    haunts my home with sights obscene.

    So reality is conquered
    And the world from evil saved.
    One more step to peace and concord!
    (One more step toward the grave.)

  12. James A. Tweedie

    Jack London wrote, “To Build a Fire”—
    A life gone up in (lack of) flames.
    These days, it seems, we seldom tire
    Of playing frigid AI games.

    This HD fire must take the cake
    When screened above an empty grate.
    The stones, no doubt, are also fake.
    Wood fires, alas, are out-of-date.

  13. J.G. Simiński

    The view before me makes the ideal fire
    The flames are perfect down to the last digital byte
    It’s the safety a screen allows near a raging pyre
    Though without comforting warmth, but with adjustable light

    Holding cocoa in hand and thick socks covering my feet
    I close my eyes to imagine what’s before me is really what I desire
    Trying hard to recreate that feeling of a snowy mountain retreat
    But alas, I give in, put some logs on, watch the movie, Chariots of Fire.

  14. Mark C Watney

    Upon a stack of stones is put
    a plug-in-fire in memory of
    the Baal who would not light one up
    despite his prophet’s slitted wrists

    Old Baal now nightly sits
    before his picture-fire and frets
    and frits away his time
    in memory of those who slit
    and bled and died for zip

    of prophets who slit their wrists
    to get old Baal to light

    a picture-fire in memory of
    the bleeding seers of old
    who slit their wrists to get
    their Baal to beat Jehovah’s
    roaring blaze

    by prophets who slit

    in honor of the seers
    by prophets who slit their wrists
    and cried to Baal to light

    whose prophets slit their wrists

  15. eman ozair

    Shades of Fireplace

    20 years have passed in pain
    They still think I can be tamed
    Have they not seen me losing?
    Or do they just want to see me in vain?

    Your the only one that’s insane
    Still not leaving me, still living in a dream
    Shades of the fireplace, in my living room,
    Burning the woods, burning your heart.

    I’m afraid that you might find the truth
    At last, leave me too when you find that I love you too
    Cause lets are honest, we lost our worth
    When they see we want them to.

    You presented your heart,
    I ruined your soul,
    You gave me peace,
    I gave only destruction.

    Warm moments in cold winter,
    Ruined your dreams, ruined your thoughts,
    Trying to save myself,
    Sacrificing you in the shades of the fireplace.


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