Natalie Shapero
Flowers Would Have Killed You

The river is heavy with phosphorus and scum. 
It causes liver damage if ingested. 
I don’t know exactly whose runoff it is, but so long 
as they’re taking press photos with prize-winning 
children and donating sizeable 
sums to the ballet, I take no issue. River’s yours. 

Once I saw a guy struggling to talk his way out 
of some base thing he’d done, and his underwhelmed 
companion said to him FLOWERS 

all the time. The councilman announces he’s sorry 
for taking advantage of the district’s trust, 
or the paper issues the mother 
of all retractions, and I’m right there at the window, 
readying myself for the knock and the spray 
of larkspur and tea rose. You shouldn’t have. 


Found In Volume 49, No. 02
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Natalie Shapero
About the Author

Natalie Shapero  is the author of the poetry collections Popular Longing (2021), Hard Child (2017), and No Object (2013), and she has performed at The Pulitzer Arts Foundation, The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches writing at UC Irvine.