Selective focus photography of yellow sunflower

I’m burning with bloom
here, in this own bedroom, where
the life-sounds coming from the people I love
people I love
permeate my sleep. I wake with salt dried on my face,
dream hangover from brain cells that believe
everyone has died. There is a funeral somewhere. Somewhere
trees catch fire and nests fall into ash, evicted by rain. Somewhere
boys cry through time in their classrooms and they fall like rain
into my mind, my arms, our arms, and we miss them
without their names. I keep a street full of candles. Never
have I thrown out a jelly jar, some of them still sticky
with raspberry seeds and lined like tiny soldiers in the road.
I trap smoke inside their bones– glass ghosts of inadequate news.
That’s not justice. It’s just not silence.

I’m losing my mind in my own bedroom. Blooming to burn
while teachers feed me New York Times articles and
babies die on the border women die behind trash cans kids
kill themselves in their bathrooms all alone I’m sorry I shouldn’t
have said that but I was taught justice in English. I forgot
justice in English. Instead
I keep praise for the A’s that I pull from my wrists like I pulled
goatheads from my neighbor’s property, her “Good job” more filling
than dinner money. I unearthed weeds and my mom bought me
a new skirt that I wore when I beat the boys at armwrestling,
trophied girl-body for muscles that they didn’t have. We dug pulled dug bagged piles of weeds,
piles of weeds that looked like bodies when a sudden spring snow left them helpless in the field.
When I cried I couldn’t say why.

I remember being twelve I remember
drawing sidewalk chalk across my eyelids
green blue pink like the other girls late bloomer
thank God my mother said she liked the glitter
on my cheeks the marker drawings on my jeans
late bloomer “go count the rhubarb
in the garden go measure the sunflowers
they are getting so big maybe they’ll be a
neighborhood record now wouldn’t that be
lovely a prize from the backyard”

I came back with a mouth full of premature seeds
I ate them whole and thought they’d sprout
beautiful yellow things in my esophagus
when the other girls asked my bra size
I said the polar bears are sick late bloomer
I said late bloomer hairspray ruins oxygen
late bloomer I said plastic sandwich bags
choke jellyfish I said don’t kill spiders
I said look everything is beautiful
everything deserves survival even weeds
and then I learned what hypocrite means
and when the other kids said I was sweet but
my hands were too dirty too scabbed to hold
I said I didn’t mind I lied
late bloomer I lied and now I can’t
make the beautiful things stop

stop beautiful things
stop lying
stop being beautiful in a world that is not

even after they die when they grow weeds that a twelve-year-old bags with her mom when the mom needed money when the kid needed muscles when the dead weeds in the field got covered in soft snow stop being beautiful before she learns they aren’t bodies before the mom laughs at her mouthful of seeds and says I love you late bloomer I’m so sorry they died

stop beautiful things
stop beautiful things
late bloomer stop dreaming
late bloomer you lived



Poem by Katey Funderburgh

Katey Funderburgh is a recent graduate of Regis University, where she studied English and Peace & Justice. Raised in the mountains of Colorado, she finds her poetic roots in nature and feminist voice. As a newly-budding poet, Katey spends her days working with children, writing, and living within the forests of Montana. She writes to “offer poems of love to a burning world” (Katie Farris).