Milkweed Seeds

The air is full of milkweed seeds—
they fly, they light, they fly again—
they cling to leaf, to cat-tail,
dog fur and hedgehog quill.

They burst out of pods like wizened hags,
white hair pluming on witch winds.
Do not be fooled by their innocent pallor:
the sour milk sac that ejected them
is made of gossip, spite and discord.
Pluck this weed once, two take its place,
roots deep in the core of malice.

Cousin to carrion flower and pitcher plants
they fall on sleepers who toss in misery,
engendering boils and bleeding sores.
These are no playful sprites of summer—
they go to make more of their kind—
and if one rides through an open window
it can get with child an unsuspecting virgin,
who, dying, gives birth to a murderer.

Just give them a wind
     that’s upward and outward
and they’re off to the mountains
to worship the goat-head eminence,
pale lord of the unscalable crag,

Evil as white as blasted bone,
his corn-silk hair in dreadlocks,
his fangs a black obsidian
     sharp as scalpels,
his mockery complete
as every dust mote sings his praises.

Do not trust white, winged and ascending to heaven!
Beware, amid the bursting flowers, the sinister pod!


  1. The only "negative" comment I've ever heard about milkweed seeds are from my childhood when other kids termed them "money stealers." We would pick the dried pods and shake them to let the seeds fly in the air.


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