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Art for Art 3

To continue our “Art inspired by Art” posts about Betsie Withey’s fiber art (read Parts 1 and 2!), here is a letter J9 wrote to her younger sister . . .

Or did she? Sounds more like Gentry mischief to me–letters winging on leaves and wind from one Faerie court to another. Seelie or Unseelie–who can say?

Well, perhaps the author, 9, can say.

(Her writing can also be found at Nin Nyx Natterings.)

Dearest Q,

I love that these flowers allow us to think to each other! That unaligned milliner… wait, no, that’s not the right word… that’s just for hats. Seamstress? Artist? I don’t know. Whatever she is, the magic that B puts into her creations is amazing! Don’t let anyone in either court know that I thought this, but she is better than any of the royalty in both the Seelie and the Unseelie courts rolled together! 

It has been so long, dear sister. How are your hoards of shining children? And your performances… are you still doing them nightly before the court? Do they still love you? Are you still their darling? 

My cluster of cats are doing well. Many of the Unseelie will rent them to ride into the human world for a day. It has turned into quite a lucrative business! I purchased three more of B’s magical flowers so I could stay in constant communication with my precious pussycats. (I only ever rent out three of my traveling cats at a time so I can easily get to them if something is going wrong.) They works wonderfully! In fact, that is how I tested the things to begin with and I’m considering getting more.

Oh dear! I just got contacted by Nemesis, my small back kitty. It looks like I have to go, dear sister. 

Love always,

9

Then, Arts and Culture Writer Nancy Burns-Fusaro of The Westerly Sun, did a great write-up of The Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly’s new show, and its featured artists–including our Betsie! Read “Stolen Moments” here at The Sun!

Best of all, last Friday, Betsie’s “Perelandra” won BEST IN SHOW: Viewer’s Choice!

CONGRATULATIONS, BETSIE!!!

What follows are a few other pictures and quotes of long-time Betsie admirers!

 

“If you’ve ever admired a flower in my hair, you’ve admired Betsie Withey’s art. She’s a genius.” – Amal El-Mohtar (Author, Editor, Poet, and Winner of the Locus and Nebula Awards)

 

Julia Rios (writer, editor, podcaster, narrator) on her wedding day, with Betsie flower.

 

Shveta Thakrar: writer, social justice activist, part-time nagini. Photo credit and flower-maker, Betsie Withey

 

Caitlyn Paxson, writer and storyteller. Costume and photo by Betsie Withey.

A Fairy’s Wish

by Jessica Bigi

Docile is the wind and
crunching of tinny hooves
and flapping of wings as
they spin the spiders silk
into golden threads and
even the fox at play knows
these aren’t just ordinary
woods as the queen drinks
her tea with sweetened
honey the oak ‘ ash ‘ and
willows know there part as
the flapping of wings chime
and million of harps kitting
silks of plumbs and red
threads into cloaks
of leaves for the royal
masquerade not the spider
sad I could sow this fine
docile is the wind and
the crunching of tinny hooves
and flapping of wings as
they spin spiders silk into
golden threads and even
the fox at play knows these
aren’t just ordinary woods
for a fairy’s wish is a
tapestry of leaves

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Art Inspired By Art 2: Artists Around the Internet Inspired by Betsie Withey, Textile Artist

Continuing yesterday’s post with more Art inspired by Betsie Withey’s Art . . .

Witch’s Gift
By Livia Langley

“This,”
She whispered
As her fingers caressed
My hair, tied
Her velvet-soft soul into it,
“Is the whole of me.
Do with it
Whatever you wish.”
My witch’s smile was
Overflowing with love,
And as honey and moonlight
Dripped from it,
Nectarine-tasting tears
Slipped from mine as I
Pressed my velvet-soft lips to hers.
What would I have done
If she had not accepted them?
Much as my heart wanted to leap
Out of my ribs, my tender flesh,
And into her throat,
I could not give her my heart, my soul in the same way
Without tearing, crushing, burning, and breaking hers
In the process.
But,
It never came to that.
It never will come to that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ONE PURPLE PETAL

By Fran Wilde
Author of Updraft, Cloudbound, and Horizon

In my dream I have a gown
of thistles and moss lit by fireflies.
The hem swooshes a wooded path
as bats swoop the gloaming.

My shoes are felt and berry-bound
they mar no ground, they break no quiet.

And in my hair, flowers ring the seasons’ changes as I circle the earth once, thrice, fifty times, more. In my dream, my gown wears thin

and I patch it with spider’s webs
and morning mist.

In my dream I keep walking, my felt shoes spare,
my feet hardening to earth.
But the fireflies linger and dance
and the flowers go to seed
and when I reach the place where I meant to go?
My gown trails winter with it, and the mist swirls
And one purple petal falls to the snow.

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Betsie Withey Brings the Mystery to Westerly: Perelandra and the Living Hat Exhibit

Dear World,

In honor of Betsie Withey’s debut as one of three Featured Artists at the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly in July, I asked some of her friends and fans to send pieces inspired by her art, or even just their favorite pictures of themselves wearing her art!

I’ve also, as you will see below, KIPPED DIRECTLY from Betsie’s FACEBOOK ART PAGE ITSELF! With her permission, of course.

Betsie, at ACGOW. “Putting it together” as the song goes.

This friends & fans project–last minute as it’s been–has gone, as you can well imagine, ABSOLUTELY SPLENDIDLY

Of course, much has depended on who was home JUST NOW and at leisure to write me poetry and flash fiction all in a rush, and send me their favorite Betsie flower pictures–etc–but I’ve been very excited about the response so far.

Hopefully, I can keep adding to this blog as they keep coming in!

 

There’s Betsie again, and our other roommate Jessica Wick–poet, authoress, editor, Goblin Queen.

The show opens the first Friday of July! July 7th! 5-8 PM! Other featured artists include photographer Deborah Napalitano and watercolorist Lizbeth McGee!

Perelandra, my large textile art dress is back on display! With a skirt of now 900 free motion embroidered leaves, it is an ever-continuing labor of love.” – Betsie Withey


About the Artist:

Betsie Withey creates fiber art, knitwear, and large scale textile art/sculptural dresses and hats.  With degrees in both Fashion Design and Fine Arts, Betsie creates magical clothes and accessories.   Her inspiration comes from nature, including all manner of leaves, flowers, roots, and other organic shapes, as well as from folklore, fashion and costume history.

“Here is a design I made specifically for the show: a new philodendron leaf scarf made of all the deep, jewel-toned jungle green silks I could find!”

 

“An abundance of colorful, patterned, textured leaves.”

***

AND NOW,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND NB FRIENDS,
ART INSPIRED BY ART!

***

Fire in the Fiber
By Carlos Hernandez
Author of The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria

Pinch the air, and pull.
The spasming thread between
your thumb and finger is made
of the quiet everyday lightning
alive in every green in the world.
It jumps like a cat by the tail, the thread.
With a flick you toss it into your
open palm, and there, sizzling
with the life you borrowed from life
it settles into the shape of your imaginings:
a leaf-seeming, a flower-not-quite,
fungus-felt bright with its alien reasoning.
None live themselves, for only gods of death
bother with breath. Instead, you make the living
pause, and blink, and remember that
this world that will kill them is beautiful.

 

“Sewing embroidered leaves on to scarves. I always love making things in bright colors, but I feel like making something brown and green next. Something with a color palette straight out of an enchanted forest.” – Betsie Withey

***

OFFERINGS FOR A FAERIE PRINCESS
by Christa Carmen
AKA “Queen of Horrors: Rhode Island”

Inspired by Betsie Withey’s Venus Flytrap Headband/Clip/Embroidered Silk Fascinator

The girl slipped from the shadows like a wraith, squinting in the sunlight and shrinking back from the first of the revelers to come close enough to bump her, wondering why she’d made the journey into town in the first place.

She affixed a somewhat-smile to her face and stepped forward, if not to mingle with the crowd than at least to blend in with it. The first person to approach her, and comment on the unique Venus flytrap piece she wore pinned in her hair was a young girl, not much more than eight years old.

“What a cool headband? Did you get it here at the festival?”

She shook her head, trying not to scowl. “I did not.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“A faerie princess gave it to me.”

“A real princess?”

“No, not a princess. A faerie princess.”

She tried to put some distance between herself and the child, but when she turned to admire some succulents, growing from the spaces between tall wooden slats, there was the child again, stubborn, persistent, inquisitive.

“Could you take me to the faerie princess so that I could get an alien flower for my hair too?”

She sighed. “I cannot. Where is your mother? Shouldn’t she be minding you, keeping you from talking to strangers?”

The little girl looked around. “I think she’s talking to old Mrs. Pennywise. Besides, I’m eight now. I’m allowed to mingle with strangers in the park.”

She was about to comment that she did not imagine this was how childhood worked, when she was granted a view straight across the park, where a tall woman who resembled the child spoke animatedly to a bonneted old lady.

“Come with me,” she said.

“Where are we going?”

“I’m taking you to see the faerie princess as you desire.”

The little girl hooted with delight, and followed close behind, until they reached the spot where the sidewalk led again into shadow.

“Look down there,” she told the little girl, and pointed into the darkened alley.

“Where? Is the faerie princess down there?”

“She is.” She leaned closer to the little girl, gauging the moment when the child would stray completely into shadow.

“Closer,” she commanded. “Closer…”

The Venus flytrap threaded through her hair snapped up the child, dispensing with her in single swallow.

She straightened, and dusted off her hands.

“Very well,” she said. “It seems I won’t have to suffer the festival long to have found a suitable sacrifice for the faerie princess after all. She will be so very, very pleased. ”

And with that, she gave herself over to the shadows, the Venus flytrap whistling a jaunty tune atop her head.

 

Praise for Carmen’s OFFERINGS FOR A FAERIE PRINCESS: “It’s sweet. I liked the part where the girl was eaten.” – Carlos Hernandez, author of The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria.

***

Megan Swanson

Mother of 3
Caregiver
Master Knitter!

 

***

Of Perelandra and the Smile
By Elizabeth Paxson

The days of Perelandra ticked as
hour on hour fine leaves were stitched
Ms. Betsie Withey’s fingers pricked
to bleeding yet the dress took shape
leaf on leaf the form was draped
until her masterpiece was done,
a forest poised as if to walk
in tendriled glory filled the space
while an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile
danced upon the artist’s lovely face
and she replied,
just one more leaf!

***

A Rose in Horns
By C. S. E. Cooney

They say that roses grow from thorns
Though some might disagree
A rose might well arise from horns
As is the case with me

 

***

For more information on Betsie Withey’s art, visit her
FACEBOOK ART PAGE
INSTAGRAM PAGE
PINTEREST PAGE
ETSY SHOP

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IMPRESSIONISTS! The Musical

As I sat, contemplating the name “Lobotomy by Sneezing” for a new band name, after a particularly impressive expulsion of particulate, Hernandez is sitting across from me at the kitchen table, imagining out loud–in verse–“IMPRESSIONISTS! THE MUSICAL!”

A few minutes after I announce to Facebook that THIS was a THING, his comment pops up on my thread:

“You need more art lessons
to make more than impressions!”
the cri-tics say.

But I’d burn every canvas
if I painted their lame-ass
re-DUC-tive way!

They’ve studied art hist’ry
and think they know how to see
the whole of reality:
they announce, “Iife is Tromp l’ouie!”
and poo-poo creativity!

But friends, they’re not right
about the nature of light.
They’ve com-PLETE-ly missed

that the eye must arrange
from our eyes to our brains
like Impressionists!

The eye, dot by dot,
gives importance to what
we can see or cannot;
And thus it’s our lot
to perceive in gestalt!

So to our fine critics,
whose ideas, like emetics,
make OUR gorge rise,

we say keep your traps shut
and do shut the fuck up
till you DON’T spout lies.

But now open your eyes
to the wondrous surprise
of the pigments and dyes
that your retina descries
in the world, color-wise!

Yes, let us be all color-wise.
Yes, let us be all color-wise!”

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, CARLOS HERNANDEZ, DOCTOR DOCTORPANTS, PROFESSIONAL PROFESSOR, AUTHOR OF THE ASSIMILATED CUBAN’S GUIDE TO QUANTUM SANTERIA, AND THE NEXT BIG THING ON BROADWAY!

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This Morning? Children of the World, Being Awesome

I read two great articles today, and I wanted to point your attention to them:

One, Irish News, features a piece about refugee children in Greece collaborating to make a book of fairy tales with Brazilian journalist Debora de Pina Castiglione and her sister Beatriz.

I just went and bought the book on Amazon.

The other one, also about awesome young humans, features an ALL GIRLS TEEN ENGINEERING TEAM called DIYgirls (!!! OMG !!! THEY HAVE A WEBSITE!) creating a solar-powered tent for homeless people. This was on NPR, all praise due.

These articles filled me with a fierce hope.

And now, if you will excuse me, I must go read more about DIYgirls, Making Cool Stuff with Science.

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WisCon 2017: In 2 Distinct Parts

Cons. First you put your foot in you mouth. Then you put on a concert.

FIRST: FOOT IN MOUTH

Our caravan arrives in Madison early Friday afternoon. Finding the hotel was tantamount to negotiating a labyrinth. Registration, bathroom, so on.

Out in the lobby, there is a sudden hubbub of greetings and lunch invitations. I hear someone call my name, I turn and greet my friend . . . But not by her name. By the name of another friend. Yeah.

WORSE.

Worse, I panic. And when she says, “Don’t worry about it,” I’m all like, “No, but I know your name, it’s . . . ” (I have known her for going on five years at least; I’ve been to her readings, watched her on panels, read her articles. I’m a FAN!) “It’s . . . ”

AND ALL I CAN THINK OF, IN BIG FLOATING LETTERS BEFORE MY EYES, IS HER TWITTER HANDLE.

HER FRIKKIN TWITTER HANDLE.

Anyway, I’m an idiot. I felt awful about it all weekend. I would not have hurt this woman’s feelings for the world; I’d’ve cut my tongue out first.

It’s the sort of thing I’m afraid of happening ALL THE TIME. And then it does. The proverbial ax! THE SWORD OF DAMOCLES, snapped free of its dental floss.

It’s different when you’re my grandmother, and all your children AND grandchildren are sort of interchangeable, and you EXPECT to be understood when you call someone “Rosie-Mary-Sho-Therese-Danielle-Suzie-Claire” at any given summoning.

But when you’re not a supercute Mima who is nearly 90 and the Italian Matriarch of four fine generations, it’s just a big ol’, as I have come to call it, FLUSTERF@&K. My ears felt like they were underwater and so did my lungs, and I got all clammy, and maybe in another universe I drowned or something. Or at least SOAKED MY HEAD. As I deserved.

Episode 1 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

(Even now, thinking of it, I want to go hide in my closet. Preferably with a chocolate bar and a good book. But no, that would be rewarding execrable behavior… DOH. I die. Cleaver, meet spleen.)

THEN: CONCERT

After that, a few of us went out to lunch, so that was all right.

I didn’t eat anything at that DIVINE Nepalese restaurant, alas. This, because I had about 3 billion tacos for breakfast.

But I did get to sit by Amal El-Mohtar (one of this year’s GUESTS OF HONOR) (I mean, anyone who’s reading this will know that already, right?) (but she’s my friend so I’ll say it again in all caps . . .  THE GUEST OF HONOR: MY AMALFACE!) and go over our setlist for that night. This was great, because, um.

WE HAD TO GIVE A CONCERT THAT NIGHT.

Total rehearsal time? 35 minutes.

Photo Credit: Katie Redding

Earlier, in discussing with Jessica P. Wick (my roommate, Amal’s best friend) how best to plan a concert one didn’t know one was even doing until a few weeks ago, and with the GUEST OF HONOR no less, Jess suggested that I do everything in my power to lower the pressure on Amal.

See, Amal had to travel all the way from a different country, after finishing up comps for her PhD, winning a Nebula Award, and then trundling over to Madison to do all the GUEST OF HONOR things like be on panels and give speeches and PRESIDE OVER A HONEY TASTING. That’s enough to do on a to do list, and I didn’t even mention all the papers she had to grade.

So I put together a setlist called “Brim and Star.” The latter, because that’s one of my nickname’s for Amal (after Emily of New Moon) (and also because she’s a luminous body), and the former because it’s short for my imaginary rockstar name “Brimstone Rhine.”

The set list went like this:

OPENING SONG: The Grand Finale of Mister Fox

POEM: Apple Jack Tangles the Maidy Lac with a Red, Red Ribbon

SONG: Black Widow’s Waltz

POEM: On the Division of Labour

SONG: Lady Knight / Pale Lady

POEM: Pieces

SONG: Foxgirl Song Cycle 1

POEM: Song for An Ancient City

SONG: Sisters Lionheart

POEM: Winter Tree

SONG: Rose’s Garden

POEM: No Poisoned Comb

SONG: Medea’s Dragon

Photo Credit: Randee Dawn

POEM: Turning the Leaves

SONG: After the Rapture

POEM: New Ways

SONG: Daft Jamie

CLOSING SONG: The JubJub

Photo Credit: Katie Redding

Other fine things?

Being on a panel with Amal and Max Gladstone, moderated by K Tempest Bradford, about collaboration. That was really funny. And the chairs were SUPER COMFORTABLE. The comfiest panel I’ve ever been on.

Photo Credit: John O’Neill

Until, that is, we had to start answering questions about the DARK SIDE of collaboration. Nah, okay, it was still great.

I also got to do a group reading–we called it THE FOUR MUSKETEERS–with Jeanine Marie Vaughne, Randee Dawn, and S Brackett Robertson.

Jeanine and Randee read excerpts from their novels (haunted dolls!) (warring Fae!); Brackett read an excerpt from a short story about trolls, tolls, and friendship; and I read from “Though She Be But Little,” forthcoming in Uncanny Magazine this July.

Photo Credit: Katie Redding

So.

What with the delicious meals, catching up with John O’Neill and Brendan Detzner and Karen Meisner (I know we were supposed to nap, Karen, and I babbled instead, so thank you for your time, and I adore you), meeting new people or people I’ve only met on Facebook (walking with Amy Scheiderman to the concert!), the panels I managed to attend, Amal’s gorgeous reading (she read “Seasons of Glass and Iron”–WAAAAHHHH!!!–and then she and Max read from their collaborative novella–WAAAAAHHHH!!!–and it was so good. So great and good), and all the hours I got to spend with three fabulous girlfriends in our hotel room, it was a beautiful time.

Photo Credit: Katie Redding

Also, I bought an Elise Matthesen necklace. GULP. It’s called OUR LADY OF STORMS. It’s all labradorite. And it’s three necklaces in one.

I’ve been on major con burn-out since last year, so WisCon is the last con I’m planning on attending for the foreseeable future.

I may change my mind, but the deep relaxation I feel right now at the thought of never going to another one EVER AGAIN must be nurtured.

Gene Wolfe took me to my first con in 2002. I’ve been going for 15 years, some years to multiple conventions. It’s time, it’s money, it’s work–and yet it’s “supposed” to feel like vacation. And you know? I’d rather go on vacation. Go see a friend in one of those distant lands they live in. Spend three quality days with them alone, not surrounded and busy.

For this year anyway, I’m done with cons.

This was a bright star to end on.

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Murderbot, Murderbot, I LOOOOVE YOU!!! YES, I DOOOO!

JUST FINISHED ALL SYSTEMS RED (The Murderbot Diaries), by Martha Wells.

My Amazon review:

UTTERLY CHARMING AND UNEXPECTEDLY MOVING! 

I think I knew I’d love Murderbot from the moment I read the word “Murderbot.” And then I read the first paragraph and was ineradicably hooked.

I’m already a huge fan of Martha Wells, and she’s one of those authors who just keeps getting better and better. (Who’d have thought I’d like another book as well as the Raksura books? BUT I AM SO GLAD!)

This is a refreshingly frank, only partly human, first-person protagonist, up to its armored joints in a violent, complex, deeply stressful situation. It manages–by dint of wry humor, confessional asides, and old familiar habits (like watching a lot of entertainment media when it should be doing its SecSystem work–to keep us enormously entertained and concerned for the outcome of all characters throughout the story.

I loved it so much! MAY THERE BE MANY MORE!

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5 Faces of the Lord of May: Anniversary Poems for Carlos Hernandez

1. sungod

red to the touch
slathered in
sriracha
no lake can
quench you
nor bog
cool you
see, the denim of your jeans is
burnt away
all your clothes are merely
scorch marks

2. jongleur

sing me songs of
motley
i will shower you in
pennies
all my copper kisses
largesse to this populace
of one

tie up my ribbons
in the back
i will fasten on your mask
let us make our carnival
quotidien
every day
a parade

3. ravenboy

caw-caw cartwheel
tumbleweed tumble me
caper caper play steal
frocktail feathercoat
wing sing tickle giggle
black-beak black-velvet
peck peck sand stride
glossy buss busy kiss
grin shiver fly

4. canaryprince

i meet the canary prince at a fairy hop, where he points up and says plaintively, “i always trust a dance hall with a disco ball, don’t you?” i happen to agree, and make him a curtsey as curtesy demands of me, declaring, “dare you dance?”

a canary prince, they say, dares the devil, fine as any fellow in yellow silk, and he confides, “i can moonwalk to michael jackson all the way out the door,” which indeed he proceeds to do as smooth as the silver pour of milk with which our queen cools her tea.

no one has danced so backwards since ginger rogers joined our fête–it’s splendid!–and i tell him so, taking up his hands and twirling him about, all his hollow bones light and precise like piccolo trills.

he is the smell of limoncello and green brocade; a topaz grows on his forehead where i kissed him last we danced.

“so you remember me?” i ask, and he murmurs that memory into spanish moss hung round with spiders, curtaining our private tenderness from their prying gaze.


5. magnolia

i think of you in the first blossoms
forsythia, dogwood, magnolia
the circus-hearted tulip, the bashful violet

you are the ever-flowering tree
the year-round blossom

those heart’s blood petals you scattered on my pillow
I remember them still
unbruised and fragrant
warm as skin

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WisCon Schedule

OMERGERD I AM SO EXCITED!!!

Stop, Collaborate and Listen
Fri, 4:00–5:15 pm Conference 2
Moderator: K. Tempest Bradford, Amal El-Mohtar.
Participants: Julia Starkey, K. Tempest Bradford, Amal El-Mohtar, C. S. E. Cooney , Max Gladstone

Amal El-Mohtar has a history of collaborating with likeminded souls, from editing a poetry zine to performing with a troupe of writer/musicians to co-writing fiction and beyond. How is it possible to discover fellow travelers and co conspirators across space and time(zones)? What are the benefits of such long distance collaborations, and how do different kinds of collaborative projects come together?

Music & Miscellania
Fri, 9:00–10:15 pm Michelangelos

Participants: C. S. E. Cooney , Amal El-Mohtar

Come and enjoy a musical extravaganza concocted by bewitching sensations Amal El-Mohtar and C.S.E. Cooney. Their repertoire includes singing, musical instruments of undisclosed types, moderate mayhem and poetry.

The Four Musketeers (Reading)
Sat, 10:00–11:15 am Conference 4

Participants: C. S. E. Cooney , Randee Dawn, S. Brackett Robertson, Jeanine Marie Vaughn

The Four Musketeers come together to tell tales of trolls, pirates, fae warfare, haunted dolls, and shadowspirits.

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For Every Word You Speak, A Flower

 

for Julia Rios

 

sister, when you

speak

it is spring

 

lilacs sunning at the

gate

drone-drowsy

bumblebee, tender

trellising of

green

 

listen! there are

violets

in your voice, my darling

mossy nooks and

depths of grape

hyacinth

 

a grin of maneless

dandelions

gathers yellow

at your throat

you declaim in garlands

shyly

 

say on, O

sweetheart

of this kindly

season

 

convoke dew-

struck meadows of

radical

wildflowers

 

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