I bury black seeds from a packet labeled Lilies

and indeed what grows has woody stems

bootknife petals and back-bent leaves

but also thorns the red of sultry lipstick

dark edges careful as first-time mascara

shined thick like polish worn by someone

who knows midnight at the hardware store

cart full of sunlights and ticking timers

a clear plastic bag of long pink worms

potting soil to be lugged home and poured

on the bedroom floor, where I crouch

clipping mismatched pieces off confusing flowers

gluing stamen to my chin, thorns to my eyelids

so I’m stuck eyes closed to the round window

eyes closed but nose clogged with the stench

like any indoor flower starved for compost

I drop my pistils in the dirt at my feet

and wait for the worms to feed me my rot

and if you could ignore the stink, you’d swear

my petals kiss my thorns, my thorns grow darker.


Joshua Sassoon Orol is a trans Jewish poet from Raleigh, NC, writing with the texts, tunes, and stories passed down from their mixed heritage family. Joshua completed an MFA at NC State University, and received an Academy of American Poets prize while at UNC Chapel Hill. Their poetry can be read in recent or forthcoming issues of Driftwood Press, Nimrod, Santa Ana River Review, and Storm Cellar.