November 18, 2021

Ekphrastic Challenge, October 2021: Artist’s Choice


Family by Gouri Prakash, photograph of ducks swimming in opposite directions

Image: “Family” by Gouri Prakash. “Grief” was written by Susan Carroll Jewell for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, October 2021, and selected as the Artist’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Susan Carroll Jewell


She lands with the others, but now has turned away
without ruffling this pond. Each feather carries its own

reflection, wings tucked, tails up, self-involved,
unaware that she is drifting clumsy and tired

into a marshy space. You watch, guessing at the patterns
beneath the surface, how legs rhythmically punch webs

through water, the complicated currents she cannot navigate.
Her hollow bones fill with heaviness. The others move on.

She drifts away in the open, abandoned like the egg
that never hatched, the unfamiliar commonplace of loss.

You want to tell her that nothing lasts forever, show her
the brilliant colors of this day, but a blind eye cannot see

even if it tries. You want to believe in science, that simple
observation can affect what happens, that your attention

can make a difference, alter her direction. If this were true,
we could clear the heavy air. We are so small on this tiny pond.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
October 2021, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Gouri Prakash: “As I read the poems, I felt like I was looking through a kaleidoscope of perspectives. No two poems had the same idea or interpretation. In line, ‘Grief’ is a poem that reminds me of a different situation or a new context every time I read it. The central idea of how another’s grief can be so palpable that it leads to one’s own feelings of hopelessness at being unable to serve as a source of respite, is gracefully renditioned. The last line, ‘We are so small on this tiny pond,’ underlines the sense of despair that pervades our tightly-knit worlds.”

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November 28, 2019

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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