Archives for posts with tag: flowers

by Joe Cottonwood

Always an embarrassment, my father,
a bow-tie guy and president for Pete’s sake
of the Daffodil Society
so when he fenced a corner of the yard
and filled it with yellow bouquets wilted,
with grass clippings and moldy leaves of elm
wafting an odor like an old sponge,
it was another sad fact to hide about my family
until the dry winter day I saw steam rising.

With friend Jimmy I jumped in,
made burrows, caves,
prairie dogs in a warm hill of decay
spreading chaos which my father
must have cleaned later.

Some gone days like wilted bouquets
grow warm.

PHOTO: Leaf compost by Yves Bernardi.

Cottonwood and Pine

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: An ancient oak tree fell at my children’s school. The arborist cut and chipped. After the next rainfall, a mound of wood chips wafted steam. The scent was the trigger. As a child I thought an old sponge. The scent so sharp yet rich and deep I could now recognize as of an old whiskey barrel. I placed my hand inside the mound and yes, so warm. After decades dormant, this memory poured into my cup, and I drank.

PHOTO: Joe Cottonwood at the intersection of Cottonwood and Pine.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Cottonwood has repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. His latest book is Random Saints. You can find him (and his poems) on Facebook. Visit him at

Because Cell Phones Did Not Exist
by Deirdre Garr Johns

We were strangers at sixteen
when you brought a single rose
to my house.

Only these details remain:

the turning of gravel;

the knocking on the back porch door,
and me, s l o w – w a l k i n g;

my shyness containing my eagerness;

the metal latch unlocking;

the cool air unable to calm
the flush of my face.

Surprises were captured in the moment,
left to be protected by the mind
and later, faded or replaced.

There were no retakes or posing.
And yet, my memory has not failed me.

Instead, it has isolated
a simple gesture:
a boy and a girl–
the beginning of something.

No amount of retakes
could make a more vivid image,
and I am satisfied with my mind’s
own remembering.

Photo by Bronwyn8. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spend a lot of time with my poems. To quote Billy Collins, I “walk inside the poem’s room/and feel the walls for a light switch.” My poems experience multiple revisions until their meaning becomes clear to me. I may want to evoke some particular meaning or message, but the more time I spend with– and away from–a poem, the more I come to realize the meaning. So my process is fairly long from beginning to end, and I think this is what I enjoy the most about writing poetry–the process of exploration and self-realization. This poem is an early poem in a collection I have compiled about the stages of love–young, mature, lost, and self. It is my earliest memory of young love.


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deirdre Garr Johns resides in South Carolina with her family. Nature is an inspiration, and poetry is a first love. Much of her work is inspired by memories of people and places. Her poetry has appeared in Sylvia magazine (“The turning of the air is slight”) and South Carolina Bards Poetry Anthology (“Elders of the Earth”). Her nonfiction work has been published by the Surfside Chapter of the South Carolina Writers Association (“The Many Lives to Live”) and Sasee Magazine (“The Perfect Age” [August 2021] and “The Great Disconnect” [September 2022]). Her poem “A park in Gloucester City” appeared in Eunoia Magazine.  Her website is

Bouncing Between Beds with Song
by Marjorie Maddox

“Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height…” Mary Poppins

See the magnolia bursting
with what could be and the blue-grey
two-story shy beside it? There,
go in now, up the stairs and back too many years

into what could be, into the blue-grey
and stair-stepping into the long hallway of age,
go in now, staring full-face all the many years
that separate adult’s bed from child’s dream.

Two-stepping down the long hallway of age,
here where you cannot stand still—
between adult’s bed and child’s dream—
this is where you learned to fly.

There is a time you cannot stand still,
a time to leap from the blue-grey hall.
This is where your voice learned to fly
bursting from throat through song, through story,

each time leaping from the blue-grey hall,
“up, up into the atmosphere” of movies,
bursting from throat through song, through story,
“up, up where the air is clear,” Mary Poppins humming.

“Up, Up”—the atmosphere expanding as you moved
into each new sphere, past flying the kite, past the kite itself,
“up, up, where the air is clear,” beyond Mary Poppins. Humming
yourself into belief, away from the world below

into each new sphere, past flying the kite, past the kite itself,
into the more real sky, the universe itself, all that was waiting
of yourself. What you believed flew away from the world below
with loud singing past the rooftops and soot-filled chimneys

into the more real sky, the universe itself, all that was waiting.
Dashing down the long hallway, you bounce on one bed, then the other
with loud singing, past the rooftops and soot-filled chimneys,
past the Mary Poppins stories— childhood

dashed. Down the long hallway, past the beds, the other
self waits. There are always two stories. There
the blue-grey of what was. Over there,
what could be, every magnolia bursting.

Previously published in SWWIM, The Orchards Poetry Review, and How to Write a Form Poem, ed. Tania Runyan (T. S. Poetry Press 2020).

PAINTING: Magnolias by Lolame.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Here is  a link to an interview about writing this particular poem:

Maddox Author Photo photo credit Melania Rae

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 13 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize), Begin with a Question (Paraclete, International Book Award Winner), and Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts) — an ekphrastic collaboration with photographer Karen Elias—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); four children’s and YA books—including Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises (Finalist International Book Awards), A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry; I’m Feeling Blue, Too! (a 2021 NCTE Notable Poetry Book), and Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems , Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor). In the Museum of My Daughter’s Mind, based on her daughter’s paintings (, + works by other artists, is forthcoming in 2023 (Shanti Arts). Visit her at

Author photo by Melania Rae. 

igor batenev
A Bee Will Visit 5,000 Flowers a Day
by Ranney Campbell

that sweet year’s rare drench stirred
tiny bright yellow petals so delicate
not the color
               named for, wild mustard,

and sticky invasive cane tangled
every bit of hills devoid defense
natural enemies and bees followed

to collect pollen and lie on my back
on granite, inundated in ten-thousand

buzzes unlike another experience
ever in my head vibrating a magnetic
                 in knowing they might
over and over
with home all those miles away
had gone alone so far
                                    off trail

swelled between stems whirling
                         the air black slashed
core droned

                              eyes closed

they would know I meant no harm

or that at least whatever inflicted
would leave me
with just a number of red welts
of venom
that soon enough would settle

PHOTO: Bee on wild mustard by Igor Batanev.

Campbell2022 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ranney Campbell is from St. Louis, Missouri, but lives in Southern California. Her chapbook, Pimp, is published by Arroyo Seco Press, and other work has appeared in Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Hummingbird: Magazine of the Short Poem, Third Wednesday, Eastern Iowa Review, ONE ART, Storm Cellar (forthcoming), and elsewhere.

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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).


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.

poppy 1
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.

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.

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.


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

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.


Suzanne O’Connell is a poet living in Los Angeles. Visit her at

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