rare and remarkable fungi
That got me curious about another famously smelly wildflower, one I’m particularly fond of – skunk cabbage, a winter miracle flowing with antifreeze that burns and blooms through the snow. Sure enough, the Latin name is Symplocarpus foetidus, and Brandenburg says: “Plants are ill-scented, with somewhat skunklike odor.” In his journal entry for Oct. 16, 1856, Thoreau noted his discovery of “a rare and remarkable fungus”:

It may be divided into three parts, pileus, stem, and base,–or scrotum, for it is a perfect phallus…There was at first a very thin delicate white collar (or volva?) about the base of the stem above the scrotum. It was as offensive to the eye as to the scent, the cap rapidly melting and defiling what it touched with a fetid, olivaceous, semiliquid matter.

– the well-named Patrick Kurp

today i have learned
the difference between
watid and sabab.

peg and cord. the symmetry of
each stanza sculpted from shells
& scales. today i taught myself

to cut some corners because
sometimes the centre that holds
wants to be the edge that unfolds.

today, i didn’t sleep with hunger.
either of bone or belly. today i
didn’t ache for the knife of your voice.

i washed the fetor of fish
off my gaunt fingertips.
garlic & turmeric trails
rinsed from anaemic nails

i sat, legs folded into a duet
of lotus blossoms, a crow
changing the shape of light
in the window. a blue feather
fell into my lap like a key to

the same room as my grandmother’s
sandalwood armoire teeming with
mussel silk and an envelope of polaroids.

i disturbed the fray of each film.
the longitudes running through
the flattened monochrome. gaze
growing, growling, stripping, stopping

here, i have watched the months
go like husbands who walk out
for cigarettes or groceries or newspapers
never returning to the roost of bulldozed
cities. each turning into a coin that
loses its will as it finds its way.

here, wives get busy
baking bread, raising sons,
sharpening their teeth on
necklaces of tobacco shish

mouths caught in a late marriage
of speech and spit, they light lamps
under banyans and i see how hope
is a thing that is best left to flicker
in between defeat and devotion.

today, i learned that each poem
was another path into the past

today, i learned what i needed
to survive, was faith, not God.

Scherezade Siobhan

“Immediately afterwards an utterly unbearable fetor welled forth from the unseen heights, choking and sickening the trembling watchers, and almost prostrating those in the square. At the same time the air trembled with a vibration as of flapping wings, and a sudden east-blowing wind more violent than any previous blast snatched off the hats and wrenched the dripping umbrellas from the crowd. Nothing definite could be seen in the candleless night, though some upward-looking spectators thought they glimpsed a great spreading blur of denser blackness against the inky sky—something like a formless cloud of smoke that shot with meteorlike speed towards the east… …‘I see it—coming here—hell-wind— titan blur—black wing—Yog Sothoth save me—the three-lobed burning eye…’”

HP Lovecraft, The Haunter of the Dark

If you’re a Lovecraft fan, check out my new patreon campaign, and pledge your support!