The history of botany is the history of pharmacy.
Plants for easing pain, plants for easing sleep.
Plants to ward off windy afflictions and poisonous beasts.
Plants for weakness of the stomach and eyes that weep.
Plants that scream when pulled from the ground.
Plants that purify the earth.
Plants aseptic and plants for the skeptic.
Plants of antiquity and plants impending.
Plants that balm the living and plants that preserve the dead.
Ferns & Fern Allies
The great fern radiation.
The origin of the dysfunctional family: spores.
Friend or foe? True fern or ally?
Extend a hand the fingers curl like a violin scroll.
The chin rests on a wet scouring rush.
Flat vascular depression upsets the pitch range.
Acoustics thick-walled and globose.
A music of neither seeds nor flowers.
Terrestrial chimeric. An amalgam.
Where horsetail intersects string.
Where tone color is quillwort.
Spiny-spored or large-spored?
Bristle tips or conspicuous tufts?
Upper bout an upswept moonwort.
Lower bout a smooth woodsia.
Diminutive growing in low fronds.
Rhizomes erect to ascending in perfect fifths.
Origins of the Poem
1. Sepia [Book 2–23]
Byproducts of chemical deterrence.
Taste-by-touch startle displays.
Atrocious pen-and-ink fish.
Ink amended with mucous.
Shells rubbed on rough cheeks.
Crusty matter pounded to powder and pill.
Cuttlebones of buoyancy.
2. Ink [Book 5–183]
Paintings executed by fire or heat.
Documents signed with shellfish and soot.
Soot gathered from torches.
Soot mingled with Benjamin gum.
Antiseptic pastes of bulls’ glue and soot.
Tree tumors and gall.
Burned copper and blue vitriol.
Neolithic lamb’s-tongue tattoos.
Thick salves that grow new skin.
Cockroach [Book 2–38]
Cockroaches who aggregate.
Cockroaches who shun the light.
Pound a millhouse cockroach with oil.
Boil a bakehouse cockroach to insect succulence.
Drip a drop in an ear to diminish an ache.
A dollop on the tongue to unlock the lungs.
Image © Biodiversity Heritage Library