Several Words from an Authority on Milkweed: April 2015 PAD Challenge, Day 19

Look, man, if you really want
the most successful butterfly puddle
possible, you really gotta pee on it —
that’s in addition to the cow manure.
Cow manure, human pee: Got it?

(But if you do this, don’t tell anyone.)

Hairy balls milkweed comes from Africa
and is perennial in Zone 8, can be grown
elsewhere as an annual, for laughs
and because caterpillars love crawling
all over those green testicles.

Please form a strong opinion now,
on the subject of tropical milkweed.
Be prepared to defend your choice
against link attack. You are either
destroying monarchs or saving them,
depending on the day or on who is
firing off which set of links.

Have you heard the story of the person
who got milkweed sap in her eye? Consider
wearing safety goggles in the garden.

Do you have enough milkweed?
Can you ever have enough milkweed?
Should you order more milkweed?

These are the questions I ask myself
at night — and then I wake up screaming.


No Trouble

I make everything
easy for you now

easier than it needs to be

like some kind of


a coin-shaped
geranium petal

as big as the sun

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 10. Prompt: “_______ Trouble.”


Amaryllis Woman

Tell me again how I burst forth,
reaching for the sky with immense
petals from some rainforest where
my ancestors came from, but I
sprang up from nowhere, arrived
in a dark green vessel, unmarked
and unheralded. Tell me again
the story of how you didn’t
know me and then suddenly you
did, and how you watched me
every day, how I sat on your
windowsill and performed the
superhuman act of making you
happy in the middle of February.

For the November PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 4. Prompt: a superhero or superheroine poem.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, besides pushing myself a little by writing directly here rather than in Word, which is my usual, and which gains me a modicum of editing time before I post, I’m also not looking at the prompt until I’m actually ready to write. That way, I don’t prewrite by mulling over ideas all day long. The poems you see this month are as close to my “first mind” as you’re going to get.

Hey, big news! I just found out that I get to be part of a reading at Woman Made Gallery here in Chicago on Sunday, December 7. I hear it’s a really great space, and I’m honored to have been selected. I’ll be reading from my chapbook Secret Rivers. If you’re in Chicago, I hope you’ll come out. Also, there will be snacks.



Death is a preventable fiction. I am blooming now
like never before, standing tall and so healthy that
surely I will be passed over. Only someone truly
cruel would look at my orange petals, the mosaic
I have made out of sun, to represent the sun,
and say I should not live to see December, then
another spring, another summer. I will be the first
of my kind, in our portion of earth, to make it
through to the other side—because I have
made myself beautiful. I have been useful.
The bee came again yesterday, but she was
slower, less hungry. Still, she whispered her plan
to me, how she will fly so fast, up into the cold sky,
that no one can catch her. I told her I will be here
when it’s safe to come back. I will feed her then.



Check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets every Tuesday p.m.


Helen’s Flower

You know Helen:
Either she’s sorrowing
over being kidnapped
(twice), or she’s

putting on her makeup.
Flowers made of tears.
Makeup made of flowers.
Either way, Helen wants us

to notice Helen. The great
beauty. Look at me; my face
launched a thousand ships.
My parents mated as birds,

and now a flower grows
with every precious tear!
You know what I say?
So what? Who cares,

Helen? Her flower,
how many people
love it? How many
gardens is it in

right now? Three?
Four? Four hundred?
It doesn’t matter.
My name is Rose.



Check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets every Tuesday p.m.


Achillea Millefolium

Yarroway, Yarroway, bear a white blow,

One of the herbs dedicated to the Evil One
yet daubed by Achilles (except on his heel?),
loved by butterflies, hummingbirds, bees,
none of whom need to know if another
loves them back, none of whom need
any secret spells to determine by.

If my love love me, my nose will bleed now.

If my love love me, we are only in the garden,
crushing aromatic leaves in our fingers,
ignorant of any history less happy than this
present, blameless of curses, spells.
Devil’s Nettle. Bad Man’s Plaything.

Bitterish, astringent






Check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets every Tuesday p.m.!