KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Ekphrastic Poem: 265 words
Visual Art: Painting [R]


by Robert L. Dean, Jr.

the absolute absence of god: painting by Steven Schroeder

the absolute absence of god (acrylic on canvas, 2017)

Copyrighted © by Steven Schroeder. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with artist’s permission.

This is pretty much how I saw it 
last night, around 2:30 AM, waking 
up at the slight rustling sound 

only to find myself on a strange street 
in a strange city, walking out of a bar 
I’ve never been to, the bite of Johnnie Walker 

firing my mouth, blood oozing from 
my knuckles, my jaw feeling like a 
sledge hammer’d hit it, and seeing 

her walking out of that brothel a few doors 
down, all wings-a-flashing, the halo overhead 
slightly dented, the hem of her slinky white 

robe just inches below her crotch, those stiletto 
sandals I’d let walk over me anytime, earbuds 
plugged in to her beatific skull, iPhone cradled in 

long thin hands, face like the light of the moon 
or a factory-born Eucharist wafer, enraptured 
with some game or streaming something 

on that fiendish device, and I swear there was 
a handbasket dangling from her wrist—
a handbasket, I tell you—and Jesus Christ, 

I thought, has it come to this, and she fluttered 
one wing like a fan, the other like a hand, 
beckoning, and of course I followed 

—wouldn’t you?—and we ended up at 
her place, all hot and heavy and, dare I 
say it, burning, until all that Scotch 

and the dustup with the longshoreman 
caught up with me and I fell asleep 
on the sofa and the real nightmare came, 

the one where I’m in a familiar bed 
in a familiar city and the alarm goes off 
and I get up and go to a familiar office cubicle in 

some other painting 
still under construction. 

Steven Schroeder
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is a visual artist and poet who was born in Wichita Falls, grew up on the high plains in the Texas Panhandle, and now lives and works in Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. (1982) at the University of Chicago and spent thirty years moonlighting as a philosophy professor at universities in the United States and China. He has been painting for more than 50 years and writing poetry for nearly that long.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Portfolio and additional details

Books and links to scholarly publications

Learning to See Nothing: New and Recent Work on Paper and Canvas by Steven Schroeder; exhibition catalog, Eleanor Hayes Art Gallery (Kinzer Performing Arts Center, Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, Oklahoma; 4 September–18 October 2018)

Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is the author of the poetry collection At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, November 2018). His work has appeared in Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Chiron Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Shot Glass, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, KYSO Flash, River City Poetry, Heartland! Poetry of Love, Resistance & Solidarity, and the Wichita Broadside Project. He was a quarter-finalist in the 2018 Nimrod Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and read at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival and the Chikaskia Literary Festival in 2018.

Dean has been a professional musician and worked at The Dallas Morning News. He lives in Augusta, Kansas, and serves as Event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music held annually in Wichita.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Hopper and Dean: Interview and poems in River City Poetry (Fall 2017)

Metal Man, ekphrastic poem by Dean inspired by 1955 photograph of his grandfather in the Boeing machine shop; published in The Ekphrastic Review (28 July 2018)

Llama, 1957, ekphrastic haibun by Dean inspired by Inge Morath’s photograph A Llama in Times Square; published in The Ekphrastic Review (13 January 2018)

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