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About this Poem 

"This poem looks at the uncanniness of spring rebirth, the violence inside the explosive beauty, the hurt in the will to break from dormancy. All of which relates to poetic making, the essential rupture involved in bringing intuition into form, leaving a trace of its injured origin."

—Karen Volkman

Labor as a Tulip

Karen Volkman

Labor as a tulip
arrays its flame, nu
form, as the bulb-star,
interred, divines its ore

surging the gulf
rooting it into
appalled memento
pulsing will.

Leaf-blades score the heap.
Other wounds—penetralia—
other worlds, cries, far.
Filaments, simples

emblazoning the rei,
rebus of grief.
Unslumbering terra
premising her kill.

Copyright @ 2014 by Karen Volkman. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on June 10, 2014.

Karen Volkman

Karen Volkman

Poet Karen Volkman was the recipient of the James Laughlin Award and the Iowa Poetry Prize

by this poet

Laughing below, the unimagined room
in unimagined mouths, a turning mood
speaking itself the way a fulling should
overspilling into something's dome,

some moment's edging over into bloom.
What is a happening but conscious cloud
seeking its edge in a wound or word
pellucidity describing term

as boundary, body,


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Nothing was ever what it claimed to be,
the earth, blue egg, in its seeping shell
dispensing damage like a hollow hell
inchling weeping for a minor sea

ticking its tidelets, x and y and z.
The blue beneficence we call and spell
and call blue heaven, the whiteblue well
of constant water, deepening a thee,