The Queen Is Not a Garden

Robert Campbell


she picks her teeth with a hawthorn barb     grinds bone-meal for rhizomes     birch-dander clouds the air     in the empire     flowers are the work of hands     the Queen eats maggots and ditch-muck     counts finger-bones protruding     from the graves of botanists    one: in life     I kept receipts on a bulletin board     mold-bloom embellishing a tire     a kudzu-riddled fire truck     two: my father’s leather ledger     when the empire was born the Queen     blessed it with rot and riot     tossed her infants in its churn     three: my predictive cloud-based hands     my opioid heart     today the empire’s weatherman      predicts snow     the Queen is collecting press-on nails     for her newest iteration of briar     gathers crude and grime for a hex     a dead horse by the roadside     conjuring flies



Robert Campbell is the author of the chapbook In the Herald of Improbable Misfortunes (Etchings Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, and many other journals. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Murray State University and an M.S. in Library Science from the University of Kentucky. Read more about him at