KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Ekphrastic Haibun: 366 words
Visual Art: Painting [R]

Ripple Effect

by Robert L. Dean, Jr.

water circles: painting by Steven Schroeder

water circles (watercolor and acrylic on paper, 2015)

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

More swim she says, tugging her grandmother’s hand back towards the pool. More swim. But Grandmother stands firm, or, rather, tugs in the direction of the door. Places to go, people to see, or words to that effect, spill from her lips. One of life’s little wars, breaking out in the lobby of the YMCA. I try to remain neutral, conjure an Alpine Swiss meadow, skirt the edge of the battlefield. The tiny aquanaut’s blue eyes catch mine: More swim? she asks, her face awash with sudden hope; for, after all, isn’t that what we all want? More? More of everything, especially all fruits forbidden? Grandmother wants more of whatever’s outside. The woman with the hijab and sensible sneakers just entering wants to run more marathons without people staring as she passes. The attendant behind the counter with the bulging biceps wants more people to notice his bulging biceps. The elderly couple holding hands while pedaling the bike machines want more time before one hand or the other goes empty. The cars in the lot want to drive all the streets in the city. The city wants to annex more of the world. The world wants more world, the sun more sun, the universe more universe.

Swim? The index finger of her free hand between hopeful lips, I her longed-for lifeguard.

And suddenly I am four and treading water, watching in awe as ripples spread out from me to the farthest reaches of the pool, to the tile where Mom and Dad stand, snapping Polaroids and getting the latest on my progress from the bronzed instructor, the sting of chlorine lingering in my eyes. And I want more, my hands moving in bigger, faster circles. Oh, so much more.

The Polaroids have long since faded into blurs of light and dark. The bronze god is a dim legend, the navigation of water bodies a lost cause.

I pull down the brim of my battered Royals cap, heave a grandfatherly sigh: Not today, sweetheart. Turn away from the broken heart of a face, hear the war resume as I push through the door and into whatever more awaits.

brown leaf
fall pond shivers
sends word

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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