Flowers in a Vase

The dahlias’ unopened buds poke like periscopes above their clownish mass
Green-yellow-red ranks of petals peel back around the hungry centers
Their bent-open invitations frame a pillow of seed
The long stems are drinking straws, the leaves a simple engine of sunlight
I understand their mechanics which will end soon

They droop in the vase now:  cut, sterile, a blazon
That slashes the white apartment walls, the leather couch, all the tastefulness
My gaze moves between them and a pad of paper like an art student’s
Their repeated gestures look intricate and foreign
Blatant life, oblivious to its strategies, assaults the eye

After a day their water grows murky as turtles’
Blowsy, blown, they will keep on fading whether I change it or not
A waxy perfume exudes from them
Nothing will complete their purposes here
They have no point to make but they shout


Don Bogen is the author of four books of poetry and the translator of Europa:  Selected Poems of Julio Martínez Mesanza.  His new book of poetry Immediate Song is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions.  His website is

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