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The corpse flower’s lament by Patricia Davis-Muffett 

Today’s big show: peak bloom

of Amorphophallus titanium,

the corpse flower, its central tower

climbing from four feet to eight

in just ten days. As it opens,

it fills the glass-walled greenhouse,

home to orchids, ferns, tropical delights,

with the stench of rotting flesh, as its

elephantine blossom droops, displaying

a vermillion fandango that calls to mind

rotting carcasses left behind by

organized crime, corporations,

systematically clearing forests,

the corpse flower’s habitat,

leaving just 1000 flowers

in these crystal boxes

where they are tended,

their cuttings carefully

nurtured, pollen collected,

shipped to sister botanists,

as they light up local news–

something you should experience

with your own eyes, your nose.

Inhale deep to remember

before it is gone

for good.


Patricia Davis-Muffett holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. Her chapbook, alchemy of yeast and tears, was published in winter 2023. Her work has appeared in many literary journals and won honors including a Best of the Net nomination and inclusion in Best New Poets 2022. She lives in Rockville, Maryland.


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