Abacus Creek: Ekphrasis in Action (March 2017)

On March 13, 2017, Ashley David’s 6th grade creative writing workshop visited the Anderson Collection at Stanford University to experience Nick Cave’s Soundsuits. Inspired by the ekphrasis of Aliki Barnstone, they responded to Cave’s work with ekphrastic poems of their own and created a limited edition book, Abacus Creek: Ekphrastic Poems.

From the collection…

Wind Song

Lucas Allard

A statue looms, quiet, spotted
with rainbow bursts.
Then it starts to dance,
a spot of color like a happy jazz song.
Its fur white as a cloud framed against a bright blue
sky, following no one
but the wind,
a bubble of joy, like a moving, living dance.
Laughter bubbles up like a song,
then stops.
You are afraid to touch it, afraid to revel in its sound.
So there it stands, silent. Beautiful like butterfly
spots or even bubbles of bottled rainbow,
frozen in time.
A song flows around me, a song of life, around me,
within me, surrounding me,
and begins to dance.


Isabel Cordon

Darkness grows
then light.
Light moving into color.
Color going crazy
growing bigger
coming to life then
everything stops.
It goes blank,
black again.
Everything keeps on repeating
itself over and over again.

Hiding in Colors

Emily Eustace

The bold outside is full of grays, whites,
blacks and monotonous shades.
You feel them tear into the lies of reality as if paper,
show every flaw and blemish in their wake.

Do you want to see the truth?

You are a swirl of colors; endless oceans of
azure. Blue enchanting starry nights await you
under the cocoon of smiles and laughs, skin and light.

Couldn’t you just forget?

But it seeps through every crack the trudging, dripping,
flooding sludge of reality.
Stumbles through your paradise, ripping away
illusions. Bright skies stained black
like a silent storm thundering in the sky.
The world crumbles at its might,
swirling colors fade,
and for a moment you see clearly just who you are.

You don’t like it.

Sludge fades into the horizon;
you’re in deep blues of ocean. Under its starry sky,
you’re safe under buttons and pipe cleaners, toys and
ropes, smiles and lies.

As it has always been,

the sky still black.