“After the Extinction” by Susan Carroll Jewell

Ekphrastic Challenge, October 2019: Editor’s Choice


portrait of figure drawn in a mess of colorful lines

Image: “Brainyo” by Dana St. Mary. “After the Extinction” was written by Susan Carroll Jewell for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, October 2019, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Susan Carroll Jewell


And when you pass,
an unfamiliar drip and splash
globule in space, know

that we are your arrogant
twin, newly cosmic and drifting
through the galaxies, vibrating

strings of collective energy blown
into the heavens from Earth,
remnant strands of humanness

formed from the streams of birthday
leftovers and nests of ribbons
unboxed. A face on a backdrop

of starlight declares who we were,
closed lips and a pointless nose,
a hollow ear and open eyes startled

not at the speed of light but of extinction.
Our brain still circles with inescapable
science, our art left behind, the Gothic

glass and Pollack paint of a wasted
culture. And if you see these colored
cords wiggling like conceited wires

through the universe, know that they
hold badges of mistakes, a neck
that connects to nothing but a lanyard

with a label—Hello, My Name Is
like a poet grasping for a last line,
a saving grace.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
October 2019, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “As you might imagine, the entries this month ranged from dark to disturbing, as poets wrestled with what must be described as a portrait of cosmic madness. Susan Carroll Jewell took that task the farthest, imagining a feature in which we only exist as the echo of our emptiness. It’s a poem rich with images, each strong line more haunting than the last.”

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