“Failed Photograph” by Seth Pennington

I housed water with a float of sunflower in clear glass.
The light broke the stem in two.
This is not refraction. This is baptism.
A leaf drowning marked the water green with its life bleeding out.
The spined heart of the bloom leaked sugar ants to death.
A robin quit its worm to watch the suffer.
I ripped weeds from the brickwork,
stomped bees into moonshine for the night to lap.
I caught myself licking, drunk.
I caught myself naked, with camera, at dusk.
The flash tore the sunflower like a bull caught in a sheet. I was quiet.
I was a bull caught in a sheet.
The flash tore the sunflower but the focus was soft.
I laid down in the cotton of it and found thorns around the bolls.
I laid down in it and the earth was my casket.
The sky was open.
I should not want.

Seth Pennington is editor-in-chief at Sibling Rivalry Press and is author of Tertulia. He has been honored as co-editor of Joy Exhaustible by the American Library Association and by the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress for his layout and design work with SRP. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with his husband, Bryan Borland.