Dead Flowers / Brenda Edgar


Dead Flowers

poems by

Brenda Edgar

ISBN: 978-1-59948-973-5, 110 pages, $16 (+ shipping)

Projected Release Date: October 10, 2023

The Advance Sale Discount price on this title has expired. For those who prefer to pay by check, the price is now $20/book (which includes shipping) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Mint Hill, NC 28227. 


Brenda Edgar was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She studied English and Art History at Saint Louis University and the University of Pittsburgh and now lives in her hometown with two teenage children and two senior rescue dogs. Brenda is an art historian, giving talks and teaching classes for the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana, and for Morbid Anatomy in Brooklyn, New York. Her poetry has appeared in Rust and Moth, The Shore, The Tusculum Review, among others. In addition, she teaches yoga at several studios and libraries in the Louisville Metro area.

What if Anne Sexton and T.S. Eliot had a baby and the baby was a book of poems? Brenda Edgar has answered that question brilliantly in her new collection Dead Flowers. Existential dread has never been explored with more beautiful language and imagery. These poems are haunting and connected so well to the universal human experience that reading them may save your life (hyperbole not intended). This is a remarkable first book. ~Jim McGarrah, author of A Temporary Sort of Peace and A Balancing Act


As we read Edgar’s beautiful words, we are but eclipse of moths desperately attracted, magnetised by her red lantern of a book. Like a strange Virgil, her poems guide us with a lurid light into a layered descent in which death, decay, distress are met with a compassionate, amused eye, even. Melancholic and graceful, her prose is one to keep very close to our beating hearts. ~Laetitia Barbier



His face soon dissolved,
but I could still hear his voice
in my pillow at night.
I knew the shape of his absence
in photos my mother cut him from.
He was the blank holding me
while I opened a Christmas present,
the void in the green chair,
cigarettes next to it on the table.

With a little careful editing,
he was never there.

I knew better than to ask, so
I patiently gleaned precious trivia,
from an overheard conversation,
or a tipsy aunt:
like his name,
and that he was in a band
and sang like John Fogerty.

When he’d been gone 25 years
I composed a letter to him,
then wavered, weighed, waited.
My mother called one night
to tell me he was dead;
I heard the relief in her voice.

The final airbrush removes all trace.
He is stricken from the record.

When I finally saw him
he was a fat corpse in a cheap suit,
his face a red, bloated,
mustachioed version of my own.
I gathered a last few morsels:
crosswords, beer, Deep Purple.

Someone told me he had once seen me
on a city bus wearing a jacket
embroidered with my name.
I wonder if I saw him looking at me.
Maybe there was something familiar
about his face, or the contours
of the space he took up.





In a dry and dusty chink
in the rare book room
of a long-dead gentleman scholar,
I discover a lost fragment
of the Book of the Apocalypse.
On the skin of an animal
killed young, in faded Greek
it is written: that in the
New Jerusalem, city made of gold,
crystal and gems, is the oldest
of all prisoners of war, a rebel angel
who never fell but was captured
and chained to the grimy floor
of a tiny cell beneath the place
where they crush the grapes, gut
the fishes and strangle the peacocks.
I panic for this devil, realize
that he may still be there now,
after millennia still beautiful,
unable to turn to a matrix of bone
as all the other prisoners do,
the witches and alchemists,
the medicine men.
If he’ll only repent and love God,
he can escape his solitary
defeat, rejoin the radiant choir–
but when he tries to say
a rosary his anger and pride
scream like wild horses
over his paternosters. I pray
to you, thrones and dominions,
made of light and eye-covered:
unshackle this tortured spirit
so he may tumble cackling
into the red and sulfurous maw
of the great Beast, that gapes
like a pair of open arms.
At long last, let him burn.



Necrophiliac Pygmalion


You cannot resist these, my flimsy
boxes of cold marble fragments.
You work in the dark, sorting,
analyzing kneecaps, fingertips,
earlobes. Peering at raw breaks
in the stones, you mate up mottles
and sheens. You unwittingly,
or by design, transplant a few
errant swaths from other smashed
statues; one arm and everything
below the knees, gone too far to
dust, you replace with metal dowels;
there’s something not exactly right
about the tortured gesture of the
remaining arm; but as the cool,
smooth flesh of my surreal, maimed,
tomb-like body takes shape, the
hairs on your skin stand. I savor
your pity, your tenderness as you
lay in obsidian for my eyes, silver
for my lips, nipples, teeth. You make
of me an imperfect goddess, patron
saint of minefields, for you know
it is violence to imagine me whole.



Revelation 12


I, who wear the cosmos
upon my skin and in my hair,
labor quietly, but the red dragon
smells my blood with his seven noses.
He drools and pants as he lies in wait—

but in a rush of feathers the white
archangel swoops, rips the infant away
to heaven. I sprout eagles’ wings
and fly to my cabin on the river,
where I’ve stockpiled canned

fish and dried beans. I cry to God
for my baby boy, but I am not heard.
The dragon rains his red angels down
upon the earth, flooding the cabin
with fire. All my babies will be hunted.

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