Three poems by Kari Ann Flickinger

Striking Room

Hammers don’t spark when they hit stone.

Sure, if the iron you decide to pound was cast in flame
then a spark might be produced.

But never misappropriate the attribution of the flame
to your pounding prowess.

Your arm is not mighty. Fire is

mighty—meldable. Creatures of fire
may produce sleight-of-hand to make you fill

with blaze through April—into May—you will
carry a torch for her. When summer scalds you

you’ll find she’s diaphanous—the scattered bits of coal

floating on the winds that beat at the metallic ends of
August. You burned for her too long.

How will you cross those winter-lands without her warmth?

The Dwelling Tree

Summer summers too long. The days pull on.

Their long skirts, their toes
hide, peek once
again, to flex, to interrogate this calm.

I dial to full air, breathe an orange
breath, wrap heat’s snaking
scarf about my thick wet body.

Out the window sliver, a besotted
breeze lovingly lifts each
branch of a grey little tree.

I wish for rain to fill my mouth. I live

in this summering tree where hope dives
for fine flesh in mycorrhizal symbiosis.

Hope captures a handful of elderberries

I keep tucked between stained digits.
But summer is generous

with the kind of heat one wishes
away. Her lingering

toil pulls the days, the silt on her
skirts, her dirty toes drift.

Summer is always a bit unkind

to tree-dwellers. The waxing
mood holds the twigs of my hair low.


Flashbulb love gathers in her smooth edges.
Onlookers march—en masse to winnow her
pungent procreation—to collect it for databases.

Once every three-to-five—to seven—then decade
followed by decade—this death-flower blooms.

I think of touching the Mimosa Pudica—how
she recoils—how Maladora
instead—in the slowest
possible increments—one appendage to the sky.

Pummeled by the press
who are—of course—armed with penis jokes
even serious spectacled scientists
chuckle when they call her amorphophallic.

3,564 creatures clean their glasses
65 re-appropriate their modal 66 gazes—they
snicker to themselves over sticky keyboards.
They cull her from their open tabs.

And sure—she slowly peels back into the void.

Unzips her seams—rolls
down her stockings unapologetically
juts—pumps—explores skyward.

Her propulsion flies in the face of their fogged screens.

Amidst this nymph’s sweet
expansion is a slow decay
of time—death is all

around her—in that cliché
you must fuck to feel alive after a funeral state of mind.

She casts her scent to pollinating carrion
who seek and intermingle
at the base of her stern tower.

They wallow—then expire in her brilliant folds.


Kari A. Flickinger was a 2019 nominee for the Rhysling Award, and a finalist in the IHLR 2018 Photo Finish. Her poetry has appeared in Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review, Riddled with Arrows, Door-Is-A-Jar, and Ghost City Review, among others. She is an alumna of UC Berkeley. When not writing, she plays guitar to her unreasonably large Highlander cat. Find her: @kariflickinger

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