Vitamin C


Sitting on my ass in the sauna,

sweating among a bunch of old men, tails

between their legs, the hardwood benches

take on the color of rosewood.

Sweat rolling off the flesh

slowly builds up and embeds in the walls.


Hard, dry smell of heat: rosewood,

pink flamingos don’t mean that much.

I like to be true to Alice;

that’s what my Grandmother always said

when we sat down to a game of chess.

She pointed out the red and white pieces.


Rose-gardens are filled with hothouse blooms.

They’re as pretty as a pussy

which is cultivated with desire.

When they wither, they don’t leave hips.

Black stems and shriveled petals,

piling up as compost.

Walking out on farm roads, a woman

taught me that those ugly, pink flowers

with four petals are roses.  They make

bright red hips in the fall, free

for the picking.  Steeping in acrid tea

keeps the scurvy from your hide.


first published in Living With a Stranger: self portrait, 1993.  Also published in Love is Just Lust Misspelled, 1994.

About johnsmithiiimxiii

John Smith, IIMXIII is the avatar of an award winning poet, artist, etc. who still lives in the Palouse country of the Pacific NW. He has not received much notice with his prose . . . but as his avatar, I hope that he keeps plugging along.

2 responses to “Vitamin C”

  1. yassy says :

    Good one. I so enjoyed.


Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Rose Hips | atotalsolidwaste - December 19, 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: