Trilobite is an arthropodologist's delight:
many bizarre creatures; no two alike.

four poems

Jacqueline Kari


My roses prick’d and pruning

shears nudge apart their lacy

leaves, devoured by the irrisible

worm I seek out, poetically, blind

to s/mother of white death. Devouring

whiteness blanching husks hollowèd, raiments

snowy where before color was, life. Greening

sickly, turnt paperie. Budding tongues cut off

by relentless white appetite, aphid breath, death’s kiss,

little vampires, slavering for color, consumptive; etiolate.

They can die, I need feed them nothing,

I am the owner, quoth Plath, a fury in her bee-bonnet.

Surely roses’ little lives are worth

less, but: surveilling the scene, I tether their

blight, my white eyes witness to

the destruction whiteness wrought

and works on their vulnerabilities,

their audacious color, the heady

scent that is there vital, being

roses, deeply pink and luxuriant.

I cannot bee a rose, but I can

attend them, channel energies

to keeping them alive, extirpate

the parade of little white hoods

marching to spoliate and destroy, themselves

mirrored in my clumsy hands pulling

sticky snow from their stems, their leaves

felling a healthy branch in the too-bigness

of my bumbling body. Ladybugs

police viciously but introduce

a new hierarchy of needs, interrupted

in cultivation, my intrusions. My god

-head bring forth life to des-

troy it.

Do aphid lives matter to

anyone? Capital cuteness

for Rose & Ladybuggers

rosaceae all the coccinellidae

adorably eaten out (blushing)

and devouring, respectively

fleecy aphid-o-idea snapped

between fingers. I pull on lacy

garters and garden the lacewings

glue-gunning her pearls her bulbs her eggs

to stem voracious predatory appetites

So easy to fool, to foil for

a lady cloaked invisible, versed in deceit

dropless veils, topless illusion

which egg under the cup? Answer:

dangling on a silken thread

cradled assassins

swaddled in silk

beat their wings in

rose protectorate

fruitlessly: a dear came by and ate their heads off

it’s always the ones who love you

most acephalous rose, find a way to get a head

girls are not roses, though they be likenedlie

saturating the air pink with their odor

rose girls bloom furiously

cultivated or wild: that spectator be pleasured

upon their site; that roses peerlessly virtue-guard

(every rose has its dogtooth day, lest they asketh for it)

that rose-bloom temporary and discarded be

off with their heads, dripping red

(we dare not stop or waist a drop, so let their names be spread)

For Pinar Gültekin whose name is trapped in the lantern of her body

plunged in oil

For Alejandra Negrete whose name dangles off her platform sandal’s

bony anklet

For Queasha Hardy whose name cannot be snipped away, clear as fault on

the asphalt

For Breonna Taylor whose name cannot be knocked, riddled with bullets

behind a locked door, the cries of which rise like gunsmoke

For Mahsa Amini, whose name we hoist amidst our severed schoolgirl hair

dead naming the dead girls dead

deadheading the roses dead

we’re watching the roses red

we’re wrathing the roses dead

I am too late: the roses wither, shaded bodies rapt

in faded newsprint, plucked untimely from the earth

then cast back to nurture our rot

countless mutilate roses rouged with shit

and frozen in our glass boxes

seen onscreen, they wilt in real time

we watch their decline contemptuously

we signal virtues from heaven’s wards: chewing prejaundice

we yellow in gloat till we drowse in fat, reverie

coddled to lullaby. Prick a finger, Aurora—

bid us wake to a better end

The animal kingdom is the city that never

sleeps. The vegetal king wears his flower crown

and weaves a bower for all the dead girls

their blue lips honeyed with gloss

their beds stained crimson red

their eyes bruising to open a fisted whorled

their hearts arrested on the beat

their beautiful poetical deaths rhapsodizing us to seed our garish dreams

washed in dirt, affixed to earth


I’m in another life and I'm walking in a museum and I come upon The Rose, and I see someone looking at it, and I walk up to them and nudge them and say, ‘I did that.’

—Jay Defeo, describing a vision to Leah Levy, 1989

O Jay,

did you do it?

Rose caught red

-handed smarts in trappings of

iron: fist lacks a g-

love. Velveteen, why not I

want to love you, make it good

O’Jays croon aside the primroses

the setup: mononymous blondes

make pretty victims. We lap their blood, whet with

Dis -gusto, a forever mine,

-guise a vaster hell, heaping roses

untimely plucked and tallied unceremonious

glands’ cold sweat leaking geraniol

synthase (we’re one

of a kind)

Raniyah, Daquasha, Brazil, De’ja,

Khylie, Shalonda, Kitty, Azsia*—[un]just

this mensis—the common fate

of all things rarely reflected back

(hush, bloodshed: salt the wound-

stained gussets right down to the bone

lifting blood from collective memory)

eau de forget: do it

to me now

Can a rose compass a line dashed

dreamy with gauze & how

do we find it? Love, get

behind me a chainlink briar

to plucky petals from (a body

count he loves) me—not; I’m

pressed between the rosy cheeks

of history’s annals (one exit:

tear me anew) I’m laid in waste awaiting my place

on the dirt mound

grow, litel rose; grow, litel

forever myn tragedye


5,000 years of roses: from ancient China, Sumeria; later Assyria, Japan, Persia (so popular therein that gül, the word for rose, designates flower)

Observing the flower language by which polite Turkish culture tacitly communicated, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote a series of letters home to England detailing the practice: “There is no colour, no flower, no weed, no fruit, herb, pebble, or feather that has not a verse belonging to it: and you may quarrel, reproach, or send letters of passion, friendship, or civility, or even of news, without ever inking your fingers.” Her letters, collectively published in 1763, sparked the trend of langages des fleurs in western Europe. Unfortunately, this Montagu too fell prey to the name trap, mistranslating the christening of these rosy Turkish delights and overwriting a visual language that connected words and objects via homophonic associations and rhyme with a projected sentimentality.

The 1839 English translation of Charlotte de Latour’s French Langage des Fleurs offers similarly aural coding for sending messages via flowers: “daisy, (or day’s eye) imports pure virginity. . . as being itself the virgin bloom of the year.” Opening with short vignettes, arranged seasonally, for flowers and the emotions they symbolize, the book resorts to matching lists and an alphabetized gloss; the rose is afforded a 12-page spread with a full-color illustration depicting her majesty, her modesty. de Latour speculates that roses’ thorns are the result of cultivation, positing that roses allowed to grow wild would not need these thorny reminders of human hubris. Meta-floriography: flowers can not only be used by humans to express their codes but can also communicate themselves to us, e.g.,

the roses: Bite me


Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Hello, the Roses: “Then experience is revelation … when] I inhale the perfume of the Bourbon rose, then try to separate what is scent, sense, and what you call memory, what is emotion, where in a dialogue like touching is so vibratory and so absorbent of my attention and longing, with impressions like fingerprints all over.”

The language of flowers is smudged with fingerprints

(letters on a wet black bough)

what message possibly

that’s not been sed allreddy

by the rose?

“I’m saying physical perception is the data of my embodiment, whereas for the rose, scarlet itself is matter.”

In 1867 the rose mattered as a hybrid tea-rose: the modern rose, advent of a thoroughly modern progeny that reset the rose game (the mater rose from Chinese ‘tea’ roses and hybrid perpetual rose workhorses, midwifed by rosarian Jean-Baptiste André Guillot and christened La France.) Roses grew wild and native the world over, of course; but preying, the rosarians cultivated the hardy and multifoliate roses we know today. In cultivation, hardiness and petal volume self-select over odor; our chilling buckets of thornless stems are preserved in our refrigerators to hardly smell. How to breed odor back in?

snorting, refrigerated roses sugar-dust

acid, bleach and glycerine to replace the body’s water content

with embalming fluids (chemical, saponified)

formaldeyhdrating life thru artificial preservation

Ronald Reagan signs a proclamation November 7, 1986, declaring rose the national flower of the United States of America (the runner-up: native and homely, home-grown and hardy, stinky marigolds—a sham competition). The handsome and finicky Ronald Reagan rose a deep red with white reverse (white trickles-down economically); Nancy Reagan rose is peachy, an old-fashioned apricot with hunter green foliage. Both hybrid tea-party pedigree, hardy as roses can be (hardly). Still we are beguiled by their beauty:

I already know, already know n**** roses

All I need is roses (SAINt JHN)

As a babe, the face of Isabel Flores de Oliva (Saint Rose of Lima) turned into a rose; as she prayed the crown of roses, devout and virginal in her silver crown spiked with thorns, she underslept so as to afford more time to prayer; upon her death, the city rained roses and passed her skull bedecked with a rose-crown while her torso installed in the sanctuary. Beatified by Pope Clement IX in the 17th century, Rosa de Lima was the first saint of the Americas, demoted to second-class patronage in 1942 by Pope Pius XII. As in her life, the [men of her] world could not approbate her fervent piety and so sidelined her in a grotto of severely self-inflicted penance and ecstatic devotion. In death, her city smelled divinely of roses.

Nobody to say it: Roses R-red, Rrose, amen

O nOse!

can you smell

it on me? Declension

of self, stinking with deictic

I, tethered to you (I tied the rope)

You—stand over there

& sniff me out: I decays before

you, happening presently

but only evidenced

in static images: light

me up, J, to candle a fertile

dis-ease, re-paired to smoking

cables sweating under men at work

! disassociate. Perspiring and canny Coke

plumbers me, snuffs me up a souvenir

transported through your petals’

odor. Exit: as a self as a I

owe u

Roses produce scent via monoterpenes, acyclic (linear, line-based chain compound) alcohols that manifest as geraniol, the terpene in rose oil that provides the rose with its heady scent. Like many other monoterpenes, geraniol (rose-scent) is an allelochemical, a genetic trait of the plant that exists to actively inhibit the grow of its neighboring plant. In a recent study, Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s Wort) and Phleum pratense, an important European forage grass, were exposed to the geraniol chemotype; none of the H. perforatum seeds germinated, and P. pratense seed germination was strongly inhibited. Rose effectively castrated her neighbor plants. Would she smell as sweet if called geraniol? With her allelochemically phytotoxic gate-keeping, Rose removes herself—sets herself apart—from the garden, gelding any who dare encroach her ladyship. Ice queen, inbred and stinking of geraniol, made wholly through self-selected isolation.

Rose’s singularity compounds:

most plants containing geraniol

(basil, citronella, geranium, cardamom

thyme, et al) produce in their glands

geraniol synthase to smell


Rose—iconoclastical—eschews geraniol

synthasesia for newly discove-red odor

RhNUDX1 enzyme to perfume herself.

Why? You weren’t listening: she speci

-al to -ous. Biosynthetic-

ally unique (as far we

know), working, bred round

the hour to pulse Rrose essence: not beauty

nor multifoliate efflorescence, but odor

(coming at you from the cytoplasm)

a declaration of self: stinking unapologetic

forges new pathways to manifest her good

-s (honeybees fan themselves, swooning)

The next natural

question: what is it

about smell and

memory lets us nose

through the chainlink of present

-ly to the past? Science sez, we snort

smell & the olfactory zips to the limbic

system, mainlining to memory palaces

of hippocampus & amygdala

—especially older memories, bricks

in palace foundations—but also—

we can hijack this function: sniff orange while

studying to remember, you’ll remember

more darkly: lose your sense of smell, lose

your ability to mint new stinking memories;

lose your memory and wander the grounds

trailing a lost scent