From William Blake’s “The Rose” and the Collages of Helen Adam


take her petals now, slowly. hold them in

your mouth and feel how they yield, melt,

twist into insects. some witchcraft cradles you

talons first.


some chord within her loses its tune.

the rose petals cracked and bore fruit

a dark secret love, all red lips and long nails

whispered a breathing exercise: no no no no


recite the orbit of the earth. recite the poetry

of men. the cries of harpies

and wind on blue cloth.  no no no

the illness that has killed the garden spreads

worms lay crushed on grey sidewalks. taste that


no no no arsenic is a woman’s weapon

you can buy it from her isn’t she pretty

no no typhoid mary had it right

insects make the best familiars they do not

cry out. taste her softness on your lips

greater men have foamed at the mouth.


there is something deliciously colorless here

like damp earth when the storm is past.