Ray Osborn

Carnation: An Elegy for Alice Alsup


Tell me which flower is always yellowly coming into a cutting bloom.
Lain in rays of light and lacquered with a smile too sundry to capture.
But wait that's not right. I was talking to a flower or a girl or a flower.
I was talking to a petaled pre-apple, and yes I was talking to a fucking flower
whose bumblebees are not set in chthonic streams and lit by love at first sight
because you pierced me at first with the cousin of true love, Eros.
None of that messy bullshit we find in those old tales of romance and chivalry,
or at least the cliché versions our parents would secretly recite us.
No, I watched you open the mouth of the lion, a taste like spicy-brown-mustard
which is of course a misnomer because mustard is always yellow and
the seeds of the plant of the condiment can only not grow without you
on the ballast of bright now not with the deprecatory Ennui and Paris-glam.
Though I have to say to myself, self-deprecatory laughter is not so OK
as it tastes, rolling and lolling about my mouth like sweetly born salt water taffy
though eventually mistaken for a piece of sea-glass, a broken bottle's neck
made into a wedding ring to marry myself. Made just for me of sea-glass.
Thank you sea! said Miss Texas in a dress of carnations,
the artist formerly known as Alice Alsup, or more rightly, I thought, you
have fastened carrion of a plant's sexual organs to your heart, a breastplate
of pickled pompoms that symbolize your disappointment and dejection.
This is a flower of love not rotating from day to night to day as the Gods
might will to have it as such: pitch-night cradling the sickly memory of day
left in celestial retention of the nadir. Legerdemain at its finest.
For who could not love the inspiration that buzzed my odalisque into saying
I have eyes like an oil spill? I faltered without fluency, tact, élan, or eloquence
and claimed no one had ever noticed, thereby; trying to compliment his compliment.
But the muse of amorous invitations tore through me, Psyche, without me.
Consort of unrequited love, you hit me with a blush of yellow in one hand
and an invitation from my paramour in the other as he promises forever.  

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