Archives for posts with tag: flowers

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The Lilac Bushes and the Forest-Tent Caterpillars
by Martin Willitts Jr

Lilacs grew on our boundary.
My window opened to a whiffed aroma of lilacs.
Light-purple light would wake me.

There was a thin spider-web nest of caterpillars.
In the weight of their nest squirmed black larvae,
begging for mercy. The larvae moved together single file.
Silken treads were laid down by leaders.
They knew they were going places
and they were destroying things in the way.
Buff-colored moths emerged about 10 days later.
They searched the solitude of streetlights.
The neighbors tried smoking the nest to kill it.

I could hear the caterpillars dying.

Everything is a by-product of disagreement.
Everything that was is gone.
Everything that will be is not possible anymore.

And in the end, nothing survived.
The neighbors passed on.
My father turned purple as a lilac, and died.
There are no more moths hovering on streetlights.
There are no lilacs neighborhoods.
There is nothing left to argue about.
Some army follows a blue line over boundaries.
Some moon is disjointed in the darkness of larvae.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem will appear in my next full-length collection, Not Only Are the Extraordinary Entering the Dream World (Flowstone Books, 2022).

PHOTO: Lilacs, lighting, and lens flare by MattysFlicks (2014).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Willitts Jr, edits the Comstock Review and judges the New York State Fair Poetry Contest. His work has been nominated for 17 Pushcart and 13 Best of the Net awards. His awards include: Winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry ContestRattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2015, Editor’s ChoiceRattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, 2016; Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018; and Editor’s Choice, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2020. His 25 chapbooks include the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award winner The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 21 full-length collections, including Blue Light Award winner The Temporary World. His most recent book is Harvest Time (Deerbrook Editions, 2021). Find him on Instagram and Facebook.

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Poppy
by Attracta Fahy

There she was with her ovary nose
all in a blush when I opened the door.
Her pupils splashed on tissue pink
petals, gushing under a star

stigma, lemon and lime carpels
exposed to the sun, precariously
ready to scatter her young.

One ivory, silvery leg rooted in a crack
on the pavement, the smokey scent of seed
in the breeze. Her leaf skirt in a swirl,

arms, two shoots raised into the air,
hands, two heads in a swoon, ready to burst
into bloom.

Like my daughter, how could I not love her?
Oh, the things I told her

PHOTO: Poppy (Galway, Ireland) by Attracta Fahy.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Sometimes it’s overwhelming to witness what’s happening in the world in terms of not just climate change, but humanity itself. It is very hard to experience the helplessness one feels at the enormity of difficulties. The question of how to make necessary changes to heal ourselves, and our planet can feel too big, but I’ve learned that to keep focused on what I can do, regardless of how small it may seem, lifts me out of the fear and sadness. ¶ I live in the countryside and have a half-acre garden, which I have maintained for over 26 years. I never use chemicals, which means there is much more labour, but the reward is that my conscience is clear and I feel good. I have a huge compost heap at the end of my garden, which I call bug hotel, so much is happening there in terms of ecology. The trees and hedgerow I nurtured from when I came here have matured, and there is an abundance of wildflowers, hybrids, herbs, fruit, and always something new. I love to see natural habitat, hares, rabbits, frogs, and a variety of birds visit here. Every year it is the same and different. I live my life according to its rhythm, and know almost to the day when a flower or shrub will appear and when migrating birds will arrive. ¶ For me, much of the issue in terms of our self-destruction seems to be a deep-rooted fear of the feminine, the soul, and the anima mundi. When I saw the submission call on “How to Heal the Earth,” I thought of the morning I went out the back door of my house and saw a beautiful pink poppy looking up at me from the pavement. What I saw was a little fairy girl bringing blessings. Of course I knew her name was Poppy. This is how nature communicates: to our intuition. I felt a very deep love for her. This is how we heal the earth. Love of all things, but start with one. What returns is immense. Then I wrote this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Attracta Fahy is a Psychotherapist living in Galway, Ireland. She is the Winner of the 2021 Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition. Her work has been published in Irish Times, New Irish Writing 2019, and many other publications at home and abroad. A Pushcart and Best of Net nominee, she was shortlisted for the OTE 2018 New Writer, Allingham Poetry competition (2019 and 2020), Write By The Sea Writing Competition (2021), and Dedalus Press Mentoring Programme (2021). In March 2020, Fly on the Wall Poetry published her bestselling debut chapbook collection, Dinner in the Fields. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Gardener as a Lover
by Uma Gowrishankar

Seeds travel all over, sprout
from cracks in walls. Different plants
cohabit in a tub: basil with jasmine,
butterfly pea with honeysuckle.

The inflorescence of the mustard
leaves a scar on the retina,
blazing hours after I remain
blindfolded in jaundiced darkness.

He never trims a tree,
the branches awkwardly
crisscross, arms twist
like an amateur yoga practitioner.

He taught me how to lie
in a patch of dead marigolds:
the smell of seeds masculine,
trapping the pores in my skin.

The morning glory soaks in
the blue of the sky till
all that is mirrored in his eyes
is the blinding light of desire.

PAINTING: Flower Garden by Gustav Klimt (1905-1907)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In a crowded city, one of the ways to be a nurturer is to let the terrace garden grow wild—not prune the plants, let the seeds wedge in the cracks of walls, invite betel vine to hug the Plumeria tree.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Uma Gowrishankar is a writer and artist from Chennai, South India. Her poems have appeared in online and print journals that include Poetry at Sangam, CityA Journal Of South Asian Literature, Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English, Qarrtsiluni, Vayavya, Hibiscus: Poems that Heal and Empower, Shimmer Spring, Buddhist Poetry Review, Entropy, Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, and Curio Poetry. Her full-length collection of poetry Birthing History was published by Leaky Boot Press.

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On My Knees
by Lavina Blossom

in the garden
this morning, face
close to the lowly
alyssum, inhaling its
spicy sweet, I was thinking
of how many gardeners
till the soil or
pull up weeds to toss
them into a bin for
landfill, killing microbes
that live to break down
vegetation, which they did
for millennia before
us, trapping tons of carbon
just deep enough to
keep the balance.

PHOTO: White Alyssum by J. Henning.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lavina Blossom is a painter and mixed media artist as well as a writer. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including 3Elements ReviewThe Paris Review, The Innisfree Poetry JournalPoemeleonCommon Ground Review, and Ekphrastic Review. Find her on Facebook

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Freesia In Winter
by Suzanne O’Connell

Trouble can’t find me here.
Stars, the dogs of ice,
shine down on the smooth
blackness of my earthen bed.
Muffled by dirt, I hold my breath,
waiting for change.

Shivering in my brown fur overcoat
and my sprouted night cap,
I wait like a mole.
I have no vision.
Is anyone there?

Tendrils of root reach out
like a blind man reaches out
with his white cane.

The rain falls like big shoes
walking overhead.
I am a cemetery.
I survive on earthworms,
bits of shell and remembered songs.

I wait for change.
Was that warmth?
Was that light?
Was that birdsong?

At last I push aside my coverlet of leaves
and stretch my stems,
stretching them to the sun.
Soon there will be a celebration,
a homecoming.

In appreciation,
I will bring fragrant white
blossoms to share.

Previously published in 2016 in Westview (A Journal of Western Oklahoma) and in the author’s first poetry collection, A Prayer for Torn Stockings.

PHOTO: Freesia Buds by Anrita 1705.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: From the perspective of a flower bulb, what it’s like to grow up underground.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Suzanne O’Connell is a poet living in Los Angeles. Visit her at suzanneoconnell-poet.net.

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Whether or Not
by Rikki Santer

See the moon? It hates us.
               Donald Barthelme

Toying with a planet, hinged fingers
massage rounds of feeble verbosity.

Reusable, recyclable, squeezing our
carbon tootsies into shrinking glass slippers.

Still, the Blue Marble wobbles atop
a human table where tongues of continents

lick their chops. Sun and moon are buttoned
to the notion of climate corrosion and tantrums

of a belligerent core. Heaps of building rubble
and oily sea foam trap so much absence. Public

policy antecedents for tenacity and reason
gone missing. What a Droste cocoa tin on eBay

could teach us about infinite regression.
Yet Earth is no Dodo. Her rind is wise

for nurturing the parts of her sum. Yes,
Chernobyl rewilded itself. Yes, she knows

how to heal and she’s better off without us.
So tilt the global prophesy of well-worn atlas

that’s too arid, too shaken, too swept away.
Final jigsaw piece is beyond how to save Her

but how to save ourselves if we want to stay
among the tiny blue faces of forget-me-nots.

PHOTO: Forget-me-nots by Hans.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Surely most agree that climate change is the most critical issue of our time, yet as the United Nations’ Glasgow Summit entered its second week, I read that Swedish activist Greta Thunberg felt that the chorus of nations pledging, by a designated decade, net zero emissions or the termination of deforestation lacked hard plans for implementation. As she put it, “the conference has mostly consisted of blah, blah, blah.”  Let us hope that she is wrong and that our planet’s heads of state and titans of industry are held accountable for the imperative promises they make, for today and for our tomorrows.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rikki Santer’s poetry has received many honors, including six Pushcart and three Ohioana book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her eleventh poetry collection, Stopover, which is in conversation with the original Twilight Zone series, was recently published by Luchador Press. Visit her at rikkisanter.com.  

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Atonement
by Paula J. Lambert

Once, I left a bouquet of flowers on the back seat
of my car, forgotten entirely till the next afternoon

when, out of nowhere, I heard myself shout OH!
and then, Ohhhhh, oh no! It was as if my body had

remembered, before my brain did, what was lost.
I was just that tired, after a week just that busy.

My husband followed me as far as the front door
as I ran for the car, watched me flounder when I saw

the bouquet was gone. I found them this morning,
he said. They’re dead. I put them in the garbage

out back. I went to the barrel and reached for them,
withered, brown, almost certainly gone for good.

I brought them inside and trimmed the stems,
my husband incredulous as he watched: my coo

of encouragement, litany of apology, soothing
fuss over their arrangement in a vase full of water.

I wanted to look at them. That was all. To slow
down the day. To remind myself there was so much

to remember, so much that had been abandoned.
By evening, the stems had strengthened, the flowers

had brightened, and by morning, the bouquet had
come back to us, gorgeous, fragrant, full. My husband

saw them and looked at me, afraid. What had I done,
really, but pay attention? Atone. What had I done

but believe that small things matter, that love might
help a sick and frightened thing to rise, to bloom?

PAINTING: Girl in White with a Bouquet by Henri Matisse (1919).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paula J. Lambert of Columbus, Ohio, has authored several collections of poetry including The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing (FutureCycle Press 2022) and How to See the World (Bottom Dog Press 2020), a finalist for the 2021 Ohioana Library Book Awards. Lambert has been awarded two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards and two Greater Columbus Arts Council Resource Grants. She has twice been in residence at Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She owns Full/Crescent Press, a small publisher of poetry books and broadsides specializing in hand-stitched, art-quality chapbooks. Through the press, she has founded and supported numerous public readings that support the intersection of poetry and science. Learn more at paulajlambert.com and fullcrescentpress.com.

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Before the Naming
by Penny Harter

Yesterday I met some unknown flowers blooming
along the foundation of the neighboring condo—
the former home of an old woman who died some
years ago. I’d never noticed them before, though I’ve
lived here a decade, never witnessed their blossoms.

Like an aging nature spirit, a woodland wise-woman,
my neighbor tended her garden as if each species were
her child. She even rescued the tiny, failing rosebush
given to me when my husband died, found for it the
fertile, sunny corner where it thrived.

She planted her flowers, and they endure though she
is gone into a wicker casket strewn with roses, given
a green burial bordering the woods. Yesterday, I could
not name those pink and white pitchers, but today
I find them in a photograph, name them calla lilies.

Before the naming, seeing. Before the seeing, pausing
long enough to be there, to slowly approach whatever
is calling you into its family, and then to listen for what
it has to tell you—perhaps a name it has given itself,
or the name it has chosen for you.

PHOTO: Pink calla lilies. Photo by Ethan Robertson. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is one of many that I wrote and posted almost daily during the pandemic lockdown from spring 2020 to spring 2021. I wanted to offer hope, calm, and healing during those months of chaos and fear. Most of the poems in that collection result from my daily rides along meandering country roads down here in South Jersey, or from walks. Being present, bearing witness to the natural world has always sustained and inspired me. “Before the Naming” is included in the gathering of many those poems in my newest book, Still-Water Days. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Penny Harter’s work has appeared in Persimmon Tree, Rattle, Tiferet, and many other journals, as well as in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry column and numerous anthologies. Her most recent collections are A Prayer the Body Makes and Still-Water Days (Kelsay Books, 2020; 2021). A featured reader at the 2010 Dodge Poetry Festival, she has won three fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Art˜s, two fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), and awards from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Poetry Society of America. She lives in the South Jersey shore area. To find her books, visit Kelsay Books and Amazon

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My daughter bought me an orchid plant
by Julie Standig

for Mother’s Day
four years ago,
two days after
my mother died.

As a rule,
I kill orchids,
which my mother
had often said I did
to her.

I was not one
to be generous
with water,
somehow,
despite me,
this orchid survived.

It thrived,
grew more leaves
even rose again,
pale pink flowers
on twin stems,
as if it had a will
to stay alive.

This winter
has been long
and stagnant.
The orchid
has endured,
has grown
two sturdy sprouts.
I am still waiting.

Like a resurrection
of sorts,
this Mother’s Day
plant. Or is it
my mother’s hand,
somehow rising
from a grave,
to promise,
this one will live.

PHOTO: The Orchid Is Blooming (Polaroid) by Nancy L. Stockdale.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At the conclusion of a long winter, and some input on my daughter’s poetry (she is putting together a chapbook collection on loss, which is an intense experience for me to edit with her), I walked past this plant that sits on a ledge in my kitchen and saw two tiny buds. So much hope. I really do hope they don’t fail us. And that was the inspiration for this impromptu poem of mine.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Standig was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Queens, lived on Long Island (a long time), worked on the Upper West Side (NYC), and now resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She has studied at the Unterberg Poetry Center, participated in Writer’s Voice, and was an active member of a private workshop in New York City. Her work has appeared in Alehouse Press, Arsenic Lobster, Covenant of the Generations, Then & Now (Sadie Girl Press, 2015)  as well as the online journal Rats Ass Review. Her first chapbook, Memsahib Memoir, was released by Plan B Press, and she is currently working on a full volume collection of poetry. A proud member of the Bucks County writer’s community led by Dr. Christopher Bursk, she lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with her husband Ken and their Springer Spaniel, Dizzi.

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The Season of Rebirth
by Hali Denton

Waiting, watching
winter’s lingering death,
the reluctant loosening
of its cold hands from
the throat of spring,
as white yields to green,
crisp edges of ice retreat,
reveal dark winter soil starred
with pink and blue blossoms
of Glory-of-the-Snow,
while crocus and narcissus
spear upward toward the sun.

Waiting as the sun’s track
daily arcs higher, stretches
further east and west,
still waiting as sunbeams
stroke dusty windows,
finger books and pens
abandoned on the table,
with stark white light not yet
warmed or filtered by
slowly unfurling leaves.

I am still waiting for
flickering leaf shadows
to thicken into solid form,
still waiting for a familiar
footfall, voice, touch.
Not everything
is reborn in spring.

PHOTO: Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) by Chris Burrows. Prints available at art.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem had its origins in the Port Townsend Writers’ Group, a small group of poets that met at the annual Centrum Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. We have continued to meet weekly via Zoom during the pandemic, writing to prompts and providing critiques and support of one another’s work.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hali Denton lives and works in Juneau, Alaska, where the landscape and climate are constant sources of inspiration. She is a former government employee who is enjoying her retirement participating in the vibrant local arts scene, drawing and writing, and also drinking too much coffee.