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Self-Portrait as Mushroom

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Trekking to the village to dunk

my sorrows in a cup of joe

I note in the roadside rubble

a mushroom with an agony

of inlaid countenance. Maybe

some underground demon manifest.

Maybe the vegetable spirit

attempting to express itself.

A neighbor in a black pickup

slows to ask if I need a ride,

but like Emerson I’m eager to meet

nature face to face. But this

isn’t the face of nature. Peering

at the agony I recognize

the face I shave every morning

and have to confess aloud

that this isn’t only a likeness

but my private mushroom self

exposed to joggers, bicyclists,

and leashed golden retrievers.

I’d like to say this is a self

portrait as mushroom, but which

self has suffered this misery

so deeply sculpted in fungus?

I pause long enough to acknowledge

my presence in this icon, then step

off toward the village as quickly

as my creaky framework allows.

Good thing mushrooms can’t speak.

But even as I distance my human

façade from that vegetable mask

I feel an underground rumble

link it to me and threaten

to erupt into noise some passing

wag could mistake for applause.

Comments (6)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Nice; Although I don’t believe mushrooms are vegetables or plants for that reason

anonymous contributors
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Mushrooms are part of the vegetable kingdom, and are indeed plants. They certainly aren't animals, except of course for the one I'm describing.

wdoreski
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I thought mushrooms were fungi.

a
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

They are. But fungi belong to the plant kingdom.

wdoreski
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I think that the mushroom is an effective metaphor here. While reading the references to "plant" and "vegetable" in the work, I understood the poet to be using license in order to add variety to his piece, which I think was accomplished. It's...

I think that the mushroom is an effective metaphor here. While reading the references to "plant" and "vegetable" in the work, I understood the poet to be using license in order to add variety to his piece, which I think was accomplished. It's similar to a cook (an artist) classifying a tomato as a vegetable when a botanist (a NON artist) refers to it as a fruit. An artist uses words to his or her own ends.

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Joshua Hennen
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What a wonderful journey though the psyche by mushroom, as opposed to on mushrooms which would be a completely different kind of journey.

Tsnclr
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