“Location’s Everything” by Steven Dondlinger

Ekphrasis Challenge #3: Editor’s Choice


Untitled by James Bernal


Steven Dondlinger


Call me a pessimist
but one flower over each eye
won’t shield ours souls from heaven.

It’s just wishful thinking
the prayers and blessings
the dirt on empty coffins.

Sure, we bought our plots
when the price was good
and neighbors weren’t all that bad.

They said we’d be better off
and we agreed.

Ekphrasis Challenge #3
Editor’s Choice Winner

[download audio]


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green, on his selection: “There are many ways ekphrastic poems can work—some poems leap imaginatively into new scenes, others linger on certain details or make a viewer see the source image in new ways. Steven Dondlinger chose probably the most difficult option: Here he explains, expands, and illuminates the very feeling I get looking at the photograph. It’s a happy, lonely, pleasant sadness, that I can’t really describe—this poem is the description.”

Note: This poem has been published exclusively online as part of our quarterly Ekphrasis Challenge, in which we ask poets to respond to an image provided by our current issue’s cover artist. This spring, the image was a photograph by Gail Goepfert. We received 295 entries, and the artist and Rattle‘s editor each chose their favorite. Gail’s choice was posted last Saturday. For more information on the Ekphrasis Challenge visit its page. See other poets’ responses or post your own by joining our Facebook group.

Rattle Logo