sally burnette – selected edible mushrooms of north carolina

sally burnette

selected edible mushrooms of north carolina

i. indigo lactarius

the blue milk
tattoos my skin

as the fleshy cap detonates
between my thighs

like a dye pack


ii. beefsteak polypore

see that sunburned liver
frisbeed into a chestnut trunk

cup the pale underneath
tough thawing tongue

sour pink cocaine
scrub your gums with the spores

excise the organ using both hands
wring out the blood


iii. fragrant chanterelle

the waxy cluster
of radioactive cornflakes

sits on the cutting board untouched
my grandmother says

gotta eat em while they’re fresh & young
the older they get the worse they taste

i tuck the biggest one behind my ear
& admire my reflection in a paring knife


iv. chicken of the woods

at first these gill-less shelves
look like a melted creamsicle

mangled in its wrapper
but i hear with the right seasoning

it tastes just like bojangles’


v. black trumpet

when you die i’ll dig a cylindrical hole
& slip you down it

like a piece of chalk
into a soil test tube

i’ll tilt your head up
& cover it with moss & a prayer

written on a beech leaf
& it’ll rain goat’s milk all afternoon

by late summer
you’ll be buzzing away

until i return
to harvest your instruments


vi. witches’ butter

when i die put my ashes
in a mountain dew can

& bury it with a wet pine log
under the waning moon

the first day you don’t think about me
i’ll cover your door with my jelly spell

& you’ll stab me with straight pins
til i’ve leaked all my juices

my fruiting body rots


vii. lion’s mane

white & droopy

that’s how i like it

soak it in vinegar
pull it like pork

extract the beard-teeth
one by one & repeat after me:

i am loved
i am not


sally burnette is the author of the chapbooks laughing plastic (Broken Sleep Books) and Special Ultimate: Baby’s Story: a Documentary (Ghost City Press). They are originally from North Carolina but currently live in Boston and read flash fiction for Split Lip Magazine. Say hi via Twitter or their website.

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