Ben Nardolilli


This might be it, the end of art and war as partners, where ekphrasis
and violence part ways, only the frames
of the photographer seem to work in the shadow of this canvas,
here paint triumphs one last time and gives way,
trying to depict the manifold pains of people under bullets and bombs.

Through blue, black, and white, the rapid jumble and zoetrope
of destruction gets its full, overwhelming say, spread across a canvas
where everyone and everything,
both the living and dead, the remaining and ruined,
struggle for a chance to be noticed, turning all observers into witnesses

Filled to the edge with abstract atrocities and cubist casualties,
the painting shows the world of sudden smithereens,
it takes on the news of the day and the bare reports of a distant bombing
and renders the numbers and foreign names
into forms of recognizable fears, keeping the flames hot decades later

A success, but also a failure, it has not stopped all wars, perhaps
a certain kind of war, a war easily captured in art,
what painting could show our technological battles, where death comes
through a droning precision, an instant strike
that leaves whole towns intact, bodies destroyed, and clear skies feared?


Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, The Northampton Review, Local Train Magazine, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at and is trying to publish his novels.