Erica Goss: New Poems

Art by Yellena James

Black Hollyhocks in the Old Orchard

The air around them
is charged, electric.

They look so impossibly dark
as if they had absorbed all

of the colors of other flowers,
purple-black like the sheen

of oil in the sun, like blood
beneath the skin.

If I crushed the blossom in
my fist, what obscure place

in me would open its eye?
This is the flower

to hold aloft when
riding into battle.

This is the flower to place
on a soldier’s grave.

Heavy Roses

gathered upon the table
we pose for him as the afternoon light
we grow by falling apart not caring
who we disturb
with our noises
there is pleasure
in hardship consolation
in desolation
don’t be afraid to suffer
we find a new way of nourishing
like a baby weaned from
its mother’s breast

(Heavy Roses, France, 1914, a photograph by Edward Steichen)

Love in a Mist

they will come back to me
when they have tired of
their ordinary lives

when desire emerges
from a fallow season
they will turn west

where the wolf is new
and lightning hits the mountains
over and over

until God has no more face
flower of disturbed landscapes
with thin blue arms

and bracts like cracks
in old china
my seed will catch a hem

work itself into a seam
and walk all the way
to the Pacific Ocean


I lie down on a sun-stunned slope,
a human dot in a shimmering field.
The meadow suffers my presence.
No ghost flits in this warm-hearted
landscape visible from the enormous
cold of space. Close-up, flowers look
like a clown’s powdered face,
an owl’s eye ringed in purple lashes,
a pale axis sprouting lavender tongues.
A bee rests in a backlit gold hollow.
Who is master here? Who decides
who lives and dies? The field changes
as I look up at the sky. Orbiting Earth,
a satellite takes my picture.

Erica Goss won the 2019 Zocalo Poetry Prize. Her collection, Night Court, won the 2017 Lyrebird Award from Glass Lyre Press. Recent publications include Spillway, A-Minor, Collateral, Slant, The Sunlight Press, The Pedestal, San Pedro River Review, and Rise Up Review. She is the founder of Girls’ Voices Matter, a filmmaking workshop for teen girls. Erica served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA, from 2013-2016. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she teaches, writes and edits the newsletter Sticks & Stones. Please visit her at

Erica Goss at EIL 

Erica Goss in Poets on Poetry at EIL 

Erica Goss’s essay “Madness, Fire and Rain” at EIL

May Flowers at EIL 

Fleurs de Mai at EIL 

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