Poetry Issue #52

False Jasmine

By Christine Butterworth-McDermott


Think honey./
Think suckle./
They say if you dream/
of such blooms, it spells/
good fortune in love/
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Christine Butterworth-McDermott

Featured Poet


False Jasmine


Think honey.
Think suckle.
They say if you dream
of such blooms, it spells
good fortune in love
but what yellow
jasmine promises
(sweet sweet nectar)—
it cannot provide,
turning toxic
the minute tongue
touches stamen.
Any honeybee
that lingers here,
corbiculae coated
in dusty pollen,
meets confusion,
double vision,
carries brood death
to the hive. We
have died sucking
these tubes of plenty.
Why, is it when
you anther up, I part
my lips every time?


Puffing Up in the Apiary,


you say, “You’re a smacked beehive,” a gibe
to disguise your own bad behavior, to hypnotize
me with blown smoke. Let me apologize,
but I’m not close to closing my eyes or excusing you.
Biting remarks skew or screw, right through
the center. It’s true you only love this honey
when it’s packed in pretty glass jars tied
with gingham ribbon. Any buzzing is betrayal
to you, even if bee is just being bee.
In your smacked up self-centered language
bee is wasp is hornet is yellow jacket
so, let me see if I can put this in brackets,
for you, you don’t need to shake [your racket]
at me to prove your ownership. Combing through
it all, down to the waxy bone, what’s clear,
what’s honed, is you’re no one I need call keeper.




Destroying angel,
you look so familiar and benign
that one brings you
in with all
the common fungi
never noticing
that subtle difference
created by the membrane
your skin’s hide like an egg.
There now, volva—
left over at the base
of everything,
you broke the universal
veil in your upward
growth. Volva is also
a genus of sea snail
though that’s not
relevant here
except to say you too are
a slug shaped
like a bullet
that rends the heart.


The curry killer killed her lover
               lacing dinner with poison
What part of her was howling
                                                          feed the wolf?
How loud it must have been to fly
to another continent and purchase
                          bikh, aconitum ferox
to fit her ferocity.
Did she think
                                                        feed that wolf
and his new bitch younger & prettier
and not me, not me, not me?
Did she think about how conscious
                         he’d be, no one to save him
and his future bride,               just a sister
             dialing 999    too late?
Did he, in those last searing moments,
figure out how she let herself
                          in with the old key and regret
             not changing the locks?
Did he wonder how—dizzy with betrayal,
            she didn’t once think
of her own husband dying of cancer,
her children?                                 Feed the wolf.
Did he realize how the agile fingers
that once passionately stroked his abdomen,
              dusted the wolfsbane onto the curry?
How she howled from scorn                feed       feed      feed
as she sprinkled, thinking
              how he wounded her after sixteen years,
she should have known          he should have known
how cornered dogs bite,
                                      how beewolves sting.


Thoughts on Your Unweaving Me As “The Unicorn in Captivity”


How could you so easily unravel this warp and weft?
The thread is pulled again as you wander past my door,
the last time. Gone is the horn of the unicorn, the forest floor
peppered in blossom. Gone tree, gone fruit. Once you
said you’d lay me down on a bed of red rose petals.
Cliché fenced me in. Abandoned, petals dried to particle,
crushed dust and so it goes, the sleek white body of every animal,
the unspooled past, dissolving tapestry. You glance at me,
then shut your eyes, your tell to a now boarded door. Goodbye,
goodbye. The hooves are disappearing, Goodbye body that
shall love no more. Now the edge. Watch the thread
fall to the floor.
By Christine Butterworth-McDermott

Christine Butterworth-McDermott is the author of the chapbooks Tales on Tales: Sestinas and All Breathing Heartbreak as well as the collections Woods & Water, Wolves & Women and Evelyn As. Individual poems have been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Massachusetts Review, and River Styx, among others. A graduate of Purdue, she is the founder and co-editor of Gingerbread House Literary Magazine. You can find out more about her at: