My Favorite Joke

by Jazz De Nero

is the one where the girl has to come out
twice to her family. Once for being queer
and the other for being a mycologist.

There are little ways to tell
small things that give me away
a bitter taste, a terrestrial smell,
My Venus in scorpio

A damp canopy only good for growing ramps
I’ve become a magician who only fools myself.
In the story where the loch is dragged, I am both:
The lake under investigation for drowning
and the soft boiled child at the bottom.

Yes, I’ve poisoned myself.
Yes, I’ve sickened the ones I love
Yes, I’ve shaken my partner
awake in the middle of the night,
“Wake up…don’t be mad, but…”

Symptoms include feeling a sense of doom
At least getting sick off me is cathartic.
Oh, lonely picnic and the stink of milk caps
How I’d like to think of myself as Lactarius
Deliciosus, (Alas, lactarius deterrimus to most)

What’s my label, besides mycorrhizal, one of the poorest
esculents. What’s my netflix genre: false morel,
something palatable, choice edible, or poisonous
to the unseasoned stomach.

To fill the body with toxins so that no one
wants to eat it, spoon-feed it unboiled milkweed
pods to build a tolerance, thicken the skin,
turn it bitter and resistant.

My intention: an olive spore print. My middle
an unripe persimmon. I remember trying to rub
away the astringent that swells the tongue
to a pucker, worried it would spread
to the soft horn of my throat.

Oh, delicate resilience, I, too, bruise blue,
Used to subscribe to the mythology that nettles
are found near their cure, used to brandish myself
with the stalks to prepare myself for battle.

The crescent blade of my knife disappears into my hand
and again I am the woman who threw her ring in the garden,
only to find, in autumn, it had grown around one of the carrots.

Not a secret left or a partial veil, no cobweb-like
protective covering, but a little red headed bolete
A funeral bell strung round sweetbread
A bitter poison pie covered in a bloom.


Jazz De Nero is a poet and artist living in Buffalo, NY. Her work can be found in Cosmonauts Avenue, perhappened mag, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Ghost City Review, and Peach Mag.

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