On Carnations


*Image found HERE

*Will update with translation

On Carnations

All around me
men are walking,
your guillotined head
sticking from their pockets.
Mother’s rubies,
snuck from the jewel box in spring,
young girls offering their hearts
on palms to Proserpine,
their innocence tucked
like a pink heartbeat
between your cymes.

I salvage the bodies of your dead sisters,
pick them up from the dust
of Stambol streets.
I lay them in the paper tombs, in ancient books,
I weep into their stems
and plead with love
to be.
The morning does not know
to dose your sap;
does not know the thorn meridian
between a wife and a mistress,
does not know the raw heart splattered
before an open mouth;
the Mediterranean queen,
clipped, bruised,
her genes tempered with
to mimic the sea.
Like me.

So you take breaths,
sway red cells,
incite embraces that can
go on and defy;
a decapitated host
singing in an empty room
from inside an ugly vase.
I wonder would you ever wish
for gentler meadows,
I wonder do you pine
on Portugal’s windows,
I wonder, yes at times, I wonder
how would we both look in cinders
or in patches ripped,
but torn to make the crinolines
for fairies.

Do you tire of your beauty,
of tempera red, prohibited for sunsets.
Of dinner or war. Of pockets.
Of fading with an open, empty chest,
your nest a grumble of dirt
under the weight of August’s love-making,
but who am I
to ask?
I steal your dead body
from the glass-house,
Belgrade, year after year,
and let you wither softly
in my arms,
let you fragrance my blood.
I walk with men
who only ever know the names
of other men,
but stir you,
stir your petals
that in sweet decay they lay
and make my soul not waste
but taste
like Moonshadow wine.

*Written for NaPoWriMon prompt day 8, which was about flowers. I often write about flowers, and mention them in, I think, every single one of my poems, so this was not a very interesting topic for me. This is why I decided to dedicate the whole poem to my favourite flower – the beautiful carnation. Whichever country I visit, I hear a different folk tale, a different meaning to be pinned into the encyclopedia of this gorgeous Earth-gem. Neighbouring countries with opposite legends, it is just fascinating. Oh, and I wrote Istanbul Stambol on purpose, this is how we used to call it in the Balkans πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoy reading!

~ by Oloriel on April 8, 2016.

53 Responses to “On Carnations”

  1. That last line is supreme. God, I wish I’d written that!!!!

  2. You burrowed right up into me with this. And please, stay there.

    • Thank you very much for leaving me such a heartfelt comment!
      I am not going anywhere!If I do, who is going to lyrically rebel? Many, I am sure, but perhaps it will be lonely without me πŸ˜€

  3. I also mention flowers in almost every single one of my poems.
    I want to taste moonshadow wine… and you’re killing me with the lines:
    “the thorn meridian
    between a wife and a mistress”….

  4. Divine! Perfection! Oh Carnations. ‘Of dinner or war.’

    • Thank you very much for taking time to leave me a word of your own, I am very very happy you enjoyed the poem! Have a wonderful weekend! πŸ™‚

  5. Incredible!
    I started blogging this month, and it is a pleasure that I came across your blog.
    It has inspired me to start my third article.
    Thank you:)

    • For some reason I have not seen your comment before, I deeply apologise for the late reply!
      I am delighted to hear my poem inspired you! Please do share the article with me when you write it (or just about any of your writing!)
      Thank you very much for reading me!

  6. Selena… I have no words… This easily one of the most beautiful–heartbreaking–pieces I’ve ever read.

    • Thank you very much, Sahm, coming from you that means a lot. You know I not only love your poetry, but appreciate it because it always makes me both feel and think. This is why I deeply cherish your comments!

  7. Wonderful Wonderful Verse, but I agree, that last line cinches it! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! I completely forgot to mention in my post that Moonshadow is actually the name of a violet carnation cultivar. I totally never knew that when I was picking my online name years ago, but it is one of those things that just falls like a piece into a puzzle πŸ™‚

  8. Reading this made me think of my sister. She doesn’t like to receive flowers or plants because they die. Her daughter feels the same way. Your words questioned their (the flowers) being their thoughts and feelings. Wonderful interpretation even though you didn’t feel interested in the topic.

    • Thank you very much for sharing your personal story with me, I really appreciate it!
      I sympathise with your sister. I prefer to see all flowers in gardens or meadows and forests, growing happily. I praise the advance of technological age because it allows me to learn from the flowers, admire their beauty – without having to take their life away.

  9. […] featured participant is Colour me in cyanide and cherries, where the flower poem for Day 8, about carnations, features multiple arresting images that build […]

  10. ‘thorn meridians’ – what a stellar image ~

  11. you got me with the guillotined heads – thank you for this poem – yes and thorn meridians too

    • Thank you very much for reading, and taking the time to let me know which lines struck you the most.
      In my country, people do wear them, pinned next to their hearts, but I see them as guillotined heads because of my country’s constant connection to horrible wars.

  12. this is a wonderful poem, particularly given the timescale of the prompt! So many vivid images and ideas in here.


    • Thank you very much for taking time to leave me a word of your own after reading my poem. I am happy to hear that you liked it!

  13. Wow. Powerful poem.

  14. I am speechless, breathless after reading your poem, thinking of all the young girls abused who might wish for gentler climes.

    • Thank you very much for reading. What you wrote is precisely the reason I rarely mention carnation is my favourite flower, because one wears it mourn their dead and abused, it being the blood of the never-ending pointless wars; while the other wears it as a ruby of their freedom, as a token of their deepest love.

  15. Thank you for such an exquisite start to my day. “Do you tire of your beauty…” All of it wonderful.

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to read and comment! I am very happy to know I could make your day start nicely! Have a wonderful weekend! πŸ™‚

  16. I can see why you were featured! Wonderful imagery throughout!

    • Thank you very much for stopping by, reading and taking time to comment! I am very pleased to know imagery was enjoyable. I often worry I will over-burden.
      Have a wonderful weekend!

  17. Ah, what a journey reading this poem! When I first saw the carnations, I was not sure what to expect…carnations are so often at funerals but you allowed me to see all the “different careers” of carnations all over the world. So many lines I had to pause and reread but this one made me pause longer making up a story in my head “torn to make the crinolines
    for fairies.” Ah the possibilities that could be a wonderful prompt at MindLoveMiserysMenagerie πŸ™‚ Cheryl-Lynn aka Oliana

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment!
      Yes, it is what plagues me when I proclaim carnation as my favourite flower, the traditions and meanings it carries in it’s seed. But I still love them, love them more than any other flower. Perhaps it is life, through its metaphors, teaching me its unchangeable ways?

  18. Oloriel, this is simply gorgeous. It flows perfectly. Thanks for writing it. And thanks so much for visiting me. Much appreciated.


  19. loved the flow of the verse, like carnation blossoming from a bud into a fragrant flower… πŸ™‚ you are right these flowers have many meanings (at least in the Balkans)… but I like them too, they become most fragrant just before they start to wither… love the last lines, a soul to taste… just beautiful!!

    • Thank you very much! Even the Balkans themselves cannot come to a mutual agreement on one meaning for this flower. I swear, I think each person I ever met, regardless of where they come from or live, had a story of carnations to share πŸ˜€
      Thank you very much for reading!

  20. A stunning poem! Your vivid, crimson-blooming imagery and exquisitely phrased lines snagged my attention.
    These lines were especially arresting:
    “a decapitated host
    singing in an empty room
    from inside an ugly vase.”

    Strangely, something in their structure and image takes me straight to T.S. Eliot’s lines:
    “Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
    Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain. “

  21. I too loved the lines, “β€œthe thorn meridian between a wife and a mistress”….”thorn meridians” just knocked me out- such a powerful metaphor – i could see the slender straight silhouette and feel the bitter prick of that thorn… I’ve always loved the spicy scent of carnations since the first time I smelled them as a little girl. They’ve always been happy flowers for me. Your poem also reminded me of a Hans Christian Anderson story about flowers who held midnight dances leaving them wilted in the morning after having danced all night- can’t remember the name of it; you probaly are familiar with it. Your comments also intrigued me – myth and story are mad passions of mine! I’ll be back to read more- so glad Maureen featured you, i see why.

    • Thank you very much reading and taking the time to leave me a word of your own! I know exactly what you mean regarding the carnation smell, I too find it enticing, whilst if I smell a rose, for example in the morning, or something purely succulent and tender, I get nausea. Does not happen with carnations. My husband, on the other hand, detests their scent and has once secretly used a perfume of mine I had that was carnation scented to spray the toilet when it was smelling iffy! I find this funny, pardon me if it brings an ugly picture to head, because in his country, likewise, the legends are not favorable for the lovely carnations. I am thinking, perhaps, this is why he does not like them, he has been taught that way.
      Thank you very much for reading, once again, and sorry if my reply bored you to sleep. Have a wonderful day!

  22. I must confess, my favourite flower is the poppy. (Preferably dried and ground to powder. It doesn’t make a very pretty picture that way but it makes a hell of a good tea…heheh.) I think it was Joan Crawford who banned carnations from her dressing area and I’m pretty sure Madonna hates them too. (Wenches!) They’re lovely. :0) Loved the way you wove femininity through this piece. Damn I wish I could write like you!

    • Oh Brig, but I adore poppies too! The thing with them is that my mother absolutely hates them, so she would tell me a new story every time, an evil one, so I do not pick them and bring them home. I love pie made of poppy, it is absolutely delicious!
      I did not know Madonna hates them, but I am glad to hear it! I would not want her and me sharing a favourite flower!
      And I am pretty sure you can write even better than me, and sing too (and let’s not mention the photography and ALL other stuff!) but you hide dem lyrics! πŸ˜€

  23. […] 12. Morning Glory – Doodles and Scribbles 13. Flowers – COTTAGE COUNTRY REFLECTIONS 14. On Carnations – color me in cyanide and cherry 15. “Bumrungrad Rose” – shamash says… 16. A MESSAGE TO THE FLOWER – […]

  24. You made me like carnations for a minute πŸ™‚

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