by Phillip Watts Brown

 

Because it burns as it blooms, red
tempting anyone to stare.

The Crocosmia flames the gate,
a sheaf of sword leaves and arching

scarlet. Same shade as fall maples,
a cardinal wing, a valentine.

Vermilion or crimson, blush or ember—
whatever word, we made it up.

I’ve been called a flower
and a devil too: a boy who burns

for other boys. Every match lit
between us, a sin.

The collective noun for gays could be
a flaming, like this bouquet of fire

guarding the entrance to a new Eden.
We had to cultivate our natures,

so we name our variety ourselves:
Light-bearer or Heart-bloom or

The King of Hummingbirds.
Green angels seeking sweetness,

see how they kiss the lips of flowers
with no idea what red even means.


PHILLIP WATTS BROWN lives in Logan, Utah. After earning a degree in graphic design at Brigham Young University, he pursued an MFA in poetry at Oregon State University. His work has appeared in Camas, Psaltery & Lyre, Rust + Moth, and Sweet Tree Review. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist for the 2017 Orison Anthology Award.


Photo: “Fleurs de Crocosmia Lucifer” by Eral