sporklet 16
Christopher Nelson
On Culture

Twenty minutes after sunrise for ten days
in May, the meadow glows lavender-blue
with spiderwort. Under magnification
the small gray seeds look like—are—
cathedrals: crenulated walls around a
pure smooth center, a place of worship

free of symbols, until we bring them.
On Comedy
That time I split mind into minds
becoming no one  
  knew where an I
  might turn up
skinned or  
cupping its own brains  
  a canticle of
or the blood beads  
the lover  
of roses knows  
  this one
  and this one
a punch-  
On Captivity

The lady’s slipper, another threatened
species—its bulbous blooms, little sacs of nectar
for the threatened bees to crawl into and get stuck
and pollen-smeared before the small opening becomes
evident and the barricading anther is rubbed
and rubbed and the magic is done. I held you

for seventeen years in the blue bedroom
of my mind. Pathetic, but let’s not judge. I brought
each day my lotioned hand and silence.
The places one comes to know when the arabesque
of identity is a golden hook. How blood
made tight the red helmet of your cock

and there were no words to threaten or erase.
On Dereliction

Random beside a barn or the lone one
in a tulip bed, two, bright as children’s
clothes, beneath a fence row, another
in a concrete curb crack, and more
among the panicled grass, invisible until
blooming, hidden like spies or herpes,
only goodness, the pure pink goodness that,
in its time, decides, yes, to open and
let inside the tongues in their wild varieties
and singular hunger. Phlox. The name means
fire, a softly haired fire, given to eruption,
the quiet kind, the kind we wake from and
continue into, continuing in its perennial
stunning, we come away only to come back.
I waited for decades to give myself over
to nature, and now? Now I feel played.
Maybe that’s my aging speaking.  
Instead of being kept up at night I’m
curling away from everything’s light,
even the alarm clock, its thin red dimness
nothing really more than a reminder of

the remainder.
On Grasses

The lovers



a blanket over the prairie


to have this

the one

awaited                        banquet


where the blade meets the culm


but first

the glume

then the parting

of the lemma


  she will find him

tomentose, growing


from matted wool

claw then

no claw

awn awn

awn until



which will take years

marginally fringed with hairs


a simple pistil


forked; divided


long before




indehiscent                                        but

glabrous again


cultish or mythic he says to her

Let’s never

wash the blanket

On Dicta

Everything’s finished
except the goldenrod
color without
parallel even after
the 100-miles-per-hour wind
though they lay flat they keep
fury in their blooming and
the torrid bees know
in their mysterious little guts
the horrible work of having
to warm the hive by flapping
while frost and ice
are ruthless and ceaseless
and so many succumb
I carry him out
the child to see their
singular yellow
real as panic
unreal as paradise and he
doesn’t want to be
set down doesn’t
want to smell their pungency or
feel their feathery heads
heavy now with must and pollen
wants instead to go back
to another small
golden beacon
the kitchen light where
the one world
I kneel I lift the
bent stems and for a minute
I am their faithful
unfaithful me I lay them
down to be second to
canary grass and spider web

I walk away I too obey

Christopher Nelson is the author of Blood Aria (University of Wisconsin Press, 2021) and three chapbooks: Blue House (Poetry Society of America, 2009), Capital City at Midnight, recipient of the 2014 BLOOM Chapbook Prize; and Love Song for the New World (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019). He is the founder and editor of Green Linden Press and the journal Under a Warm Green Linden. Visit christophernelson.info.