Logo, MacQueen's Quinterly
Listed at Duotrope
MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 6: January 2021
Ekphrastic Poem: 179 words
By Robert L. Dean, Jr.


—After a photograph by Chris Whitney, Dream Spirit

What we know stops here. The demarcation 
of what lies beyond is precariously balanced, 
like time, like memory, like knowledge 

itself. We do not know who has been here 
before us, stacked these stones, so much resembling 
ossified eggs, in the certainty, 

or perhaps only the faintest of hopes, 
that we would arrive. Dare we go beyond 
this marker, this warning, this edge of all 

there is, cross into the no-man’s land 
of unknowing, the primordial fog 
of endings and beginnings, the flawed 

snapshot of one black shadow 
from a murder, the unkindness 
of a scavenger of carrion 

who waits, just for fools like us? 
We put forth a foot, test the ground, 
find it tenuous at best. The other foot 

follows, we steal across the nothing, 
the absence of all things, feet sinking, 
like St. Peter, into a sea of doubt, 

loss of faith, occlusion 
of the heart, until we become 
the shadow of our own caution, 

the harbinger of our own undoing. 
We take wing, scout the killing field. 
Like Noah’s raven, we do not return. 


Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Issue 6, January 2021

is the author of two books: The Aerialist Will Not Be Performing, ekphrastic poems and short fictions after the art of Steven Schroeder (Turning Plow Press, 2020), and a poetry collection, At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, November 2018). Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2019 and multiple times for Best of the Net, his work has appeared in Chiron Review; Flint Hills Review; Heartland! Poetry of Love, Resistance & Solidarity; I-70 Review; Illya’s Honey; KYSO Flash; MacQueen’s Quinterly; October Hill Magazine; Red River Review; River City Poetry; Shot Glass; The Ekphrastic Review; and the Wichita Broadside Project.

Dean is event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music, held annually in Wichita, Kansas. He has been a professional musician, having played bass for, among others, Jesse Lopez, B. W. Stephenson, Bo Didley, The Dallas Jazz Orchestra, and the house band for the Fairmount Hotel Venetian Room. He grew up in Topeka and Wichita, Kansas before spending 30 years between Los Angeles and Dallas, where he worked at The Dallas Morning News. He now lives in a one-hundred-year-old stone building in Augusta, Kansas, along with a universe of books, CDs, LPs, an electric bass, and a couple dozen hats. In his spare time, he practices the time-honored art of hermitry.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

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

Metal Man, ekphrastic poem inspired by a 1955 photograph of Dean’s paternal grandfather in the Boeing machine shop; published in The Ekphrastic Review (28 July 2018) and nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Windmill, ekphrastic poem inspired by Dean’s maternal grandfather; published in KYSO Flash (Issue 11, Spring 2019) and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. This poem is among half-a-dozen of Dean’s ekphrastic works published in KYSO Flash (Issues 11 and 12).

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

Copyright © 2019-2024 by MacQueen’s Quinterly and by those whose works appear here.
Logo and website designed and built by Clare MacQueen; copyrighted © 2019-2024.
⚡   Please report broken links to: MacQuinterly [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡

At MacQ, we take your privacy seriously. We do not collect, sell, rent, or exchange your name and email address, or any other information about you, to third parties for marketing purposes. When you contact us, we will use your name and email address only in order to respond to your questions, comments, etc.