KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Photographs + Prosimetra

White Blossoms

[An e-Collection of Photographs and Words]
by Susan Tekulve

Note: In addition to photographs and lyrical prose by essayist and novelist Susan Tekulve, this collection contains prosimetra by authors such as Rick Mulkey, Stella Pierides, Brenda Sutton Rose, and Carl Sandburg, among others.

The 15 photographs below are unfiltered and uncropped, and are copyrighted © 2019 by Susan Tekulve. All rights reserved.

I must have flowers, always and always.

—Attributed to Claude Monet

Honeysuckle, photograph by Susan Tekulve

Honeysuckle *
(27 April 2019, Spartanburg, SC)

When red clay’s between my toes,
and the sun’s setting over my head,
the ghost of my mother blows in,
riding on a honeysuckle breeze, oh lord,
riding on a honeysuckle breeze...

—From “Stains” by Brenda Sutton Rose,
A Woman Who Writes (22 June 2018)

~ ◊ ~

Closeup of Jasmine pinwheels, photograph by Susan Tekulve

Jasmine pinwheels *
(May 2019, Spartanburg, SC)

Jasmine blossoms, photograph by Susan Tekulve

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

—From “Afternoon on a Hill”
by Edna St. Vincent Millay,
Renascence and Other Poems (1917)

Jasmine trellis, photograph by Susan Tekulve

Jasmine trellis *
(May 2019, Spartanburg, SC)

Out in the summer kitchen, lemon and pomegranate trees grew
in washtubs around a stone table. In the garden beyond, white iris
drifted up to the arbor entwined with Confederate jasmine,
wild roses, and muscadine, their mingled scents thickening
the air, tasting faintly like Maria’s dessert wine.

—From In the Garden of Stone by Susan Tekulve

~ ◊ ~

Blackberry, photograph by Susan Tekulve

(May 2019, Spartanburg, SC)

For myself I hold no preferences among flowers,
so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous.

—Edward Abbey, in Desert Solitaire
“Cliffrose and Bayonets”

~ ◊ ~

Magnolia Blossoms, photograph by Susan Tekulve

Magnolia blossoms and red clay *
(May 2019, Spartanburg, SC)


by Stella Pierides

The garden at the back of the Edwardian terrace which is my London home is small but compact. A Magnolia Grandiflora Exmouth grows in its middle, a variety that keeps its glossy, oblong leaves in winter and blossoms in summer. White, deliciously fragrant flowers grace the tree unfailingly, giving me hours of pleasure upon my return from my European excursions. But the neighbor complains about the tree shading her garden. Each year I chop off branches to keep her happy. Each year I dread hearing from her.

a dove crosses
the border

—Published previously in Haibun Today (Vol. 7, No. 1, March 2013)

~ ◊ ~

Gardenias, photograph by Susan Tekulve

Gardenias *
(May 2019, Spartanburg, SC)

Legend has it that Billie Holiday burned her hair with curling tongs just before a performance one night. A fellow singer ran to a nearby venue where a coat-check girl sold flowers, and came back with a spray of gardenias as a cover-up for the mishap. Holiday liked the lovely blossoms so much that their presence in her hair became the signature look for her jazz persona. Gardenia Blossom, photograph by Susan Tekulve

~ ◊ ~

Mimosa, photograph by Susan Tekulve

(28 May 2019, Spartanburg, SC)

I bloom with your
breath, your mazy fingertips...

—From “I Have Loved You Since the World Began,”
by Devon Balwit, in Risk Being / Complicated


The butterfly is a flower that flies;
the flower, a tethered butterfly.

—Ponce-Denis Écouchard-Lebrun
in Epigrammes (Vol. VI)

~ ◊ ~

Panicle Hydrangea “White Wedding,” photograph by Susan Tekulve

Panicle Hydrangea, “White Wedding”
(23 June 2019, Hatcher Garden, Spartanburg, SC)

The wild duck soars and then circles
Over my orchard.
The fruit has fallen, ripe and ready to pick.
I yearn for flowers that bend with the wind and rain...

—Tso Ssu (fourth-century Chinese poet)
from an untitled poem quoted in Tea Wisdom
(Tuttle Publishing, 2009) by Aaron Fisher

~ ◊ ~

Lacecap Hydrangea, photograph by Susan Tekulve

Lacecap Hydrangea
(23 June 2019, Hatcher Garden, Spartanburg, SC)


by Carl Sandburg
Dragoons, I tell you the white hydrangeas turn rust and go soon. 
Already mid September a line of brown runs over them. 
One sunset after another tracks the faces, the petals. 
Waiting, they look over the fence for what way they go. 

~ ◊ ~

Daisies, photograph by Susan Tekulve

(23 June 2019, Hatcher Garden, Spartanburg, SC)

Thou art indeed by many a claim
The Poet’s darling.

—From “To the Daisy” by William Wordsworth
in Poems, Volume II (1815)

~ ◊ ~

Rose of Sharon, photograph by Susan Tekulve

Rose of Sharon
(23 June 2019, Hatcher Garden, Spartanburg, SC)

The white farmhouse was a used-to-be place that Dean had given Sadie’s mother, Jane, after Miss Emma died. Deep green ferns sprang from the pond stream where the water used to be, its stones tumbled by wind and rain. The farmhouse’s tin roof had gone missing, and trillium and trumpet vine slowly churned the stone porch steps to dust. The two rose of Sharon still bloomed mysteriously on either side of the front door, which swung off its hinge, and Miss Emma’s rock lilies and rhubarb still poked through leaves in the overgrown flower beds.

—From In the Garden of Stone by Susan Tekulve

~ ◊ ~

Mountain Laurel, photograph by Susan Tekulve

Mountain Laurel
(26 May 2019, Asheville, NC)


by Rick Mulkey
Roads home shaped like wintering 
rattlesnakes—all coil and lazy 
indirection. Red bud framed in apple light. 
The rot of leaf and pine straw. 
Mountain laurel. Baptismal fonts 
of creek branch and rain-sluice. 
The homespun names of peak and hollow: 
Skillet, Hogback, Abbs Valley. 
This is the room where I hear the river. 
This is the road where I found the train 
that led me everywhere I thought 
I wanted and nowhere I ever stayed. 
Here’s the path along my family’s mountain, 
and there my parents walk toward evening. 
With home there’s always a currency 
of want and need. And always questions 
from hallways, arches, windows, doors. 
Who went away? Who’s going to stay? 
At night, my prayers are an accounting: 
wife, son, family, summer peaches like sunrise, 
blackberries dark as midnight, daffodil and lily, 
the spitting of melon seeds, 
the heat and pressure of canning time, 
preserves packed against the winter, 
men warming hand above the steaming, 
butchered hog, the ghostly dead 
who sleep by me, the pleasing erasure of snow.

~ ◊ ~

Publisher’s Note:

Though it’s not a white blossom (below), we cannot help but share this image of a stunning and rare hybrid which grows only in the mountains of western North Carolina. As the photographer wrote to me, the flowers pictured here may be the result of the “wily rhododendron” cross-breeding with the pink-shell azalea. These blooms are darker, a salmon pink, and effuse the fragrance of cinnamon!

North Carolina Mountain Azalea, photograph by Susan Tekulve

North Carolina Mountain Azalea
(26 May 2019, Asheville, NC)

Flow forth, ye perfumes of my heart, and seek beyond
these mountains the dear one of my dreams!

—From “The Hartz Journey” by Heinrich Heine
in Picture of Travel, translated from German
by Charles Godfrey Leland (1855)


Flowers really do intoxicate me.

—Attributed to Vita Sackville-West

~ ◊ ~

Publisher’s End-Note

White Blossoms evolved from photographs of blooming honeysuckle vines which I found on Facebook in April 2019. I reached out to the photographer, Susan Tekulve, asking permission to include black-and-white versions of the images in this year’s KYSO Flash print anthology. As our correspondence blossomed, Susan generously offered to send me photographs of other white flowers from her garden and those she found during her walks. I was thrilled!

Well, as the old saying goes, one thing led to another—Susan even roamed far afield, to the mountains of western North Carolina, for shots of rare flowers—and this marvelous collection of photographs and prosimetra is the happy result. It’s my great pleasure and privilege to present it here.

* Photographs of Honeysuckle, Jasmine pinwheels and trellis, Magnolia blossoms, and Gardenias first appeared on Facebook. All other photographs are published here for the first time anywhere.

Credit Notes:

  1. All 15 photographs above are unfiltered and uncropped, and are copyrighted © 2019 by Susan Tekulve. All rights reserved.

  2. Lines from the poem “Stains” by Brenda Sutton Rose are reproduced here with her permission from A Woman Who Writes (22 June 2018).

  3. Quotations by Susan Tekulve are from her novel, In the Garden of Stone (Hub City Press, 2013), and appear here with her permission.

  4. The haibun “Homewards” by Stella Pierides was first published in Haibun Today (Volume 7, Number 1, March 2013), and appears here with her permission.

  5. The poem by Devon Balwit, I Have Loved You Since the World Began, is reprinted in its entirety elsewhere in Issue 12 of KYSO Flash, from her collection of ekphrastic poems Risk Being / Complicated.

  6. The poem “Hydrangeas” by Carl Sandburg is from his collection Chicago Poems (Henry Holt and Company, 1916).

  7. The poem “Legacy” by Rick Mulkey is from his collection Toward Any Darkness (Word Press, 2007), and appears here with his permission.

  8. In addition to her photographs, Susan Tekulve kindly provided the excerpts from her novel, and Rick Mulkey’s poem. Other works and quotations were compiled by Clare MacQueen, publisher of KYSO Flash, with Ms. Tekulve’s approval.

Susan Tekulve
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is the author of Second Shift: Essays (Del Sol Press, 2018), In the Garden of Stone (winner of the 2012 South Carolina First Novel Prize and a 2014 Gold IPPY Award), Savage Pilgrims (short stories; Serving House Books, 2009), and two fiction chapbooks, Washday (Del Sol International Chapbook Series) and My Mother’s War Stories (winner of the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize). Her nonfiction, short stories, and essays have appeared in journals such as Connecticut Review, Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, New Letters, Puerto del Sol, Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, and The Louisville Review. She has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. An Associate Professor of English at Converse College, Ms. Tekulve teaches in the BFA and MFA writing programs.

Author’s website:

Rick Mulkey
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is the author of five poetry collections including Toward Any Darkness, Before the Age of Reason, Bluefield Breakdown, Greatest Hits: 1994-2004, and his latest, published by Serving House Books, Ravenous: New & Selected Poems. His work appears in the anthologies American Poetry: the Next Generation; The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volumes I and II; and A Millennial Sampler of South Carolina Poetry, among others. Individual poems and essays have appeared in a variety of venues such as Crab Orchard Review, Denver Quarterly, The Literary Review, The Connecticut Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Poet Lore, Poetry East, Shenandoah, Southern Poetry Review, and Verse Daily. His poetry has also been featured by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac.

Mulkey has received several awards including the Hawthornden Fellowship and the Literary Review’s Charles Angoff Award. He currently directs and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Converse College.

Stella Pierides,
Issue 12, Summer 2019

a British poet of Greek descent, divides her time between Neusaess, DE and London, UK. Her work has been published in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. Her books In the Garden of Absence (haiku, Fruit Dove Press) and Of This World (haibun, Red Moon Press), received HSA Merit Awards for books published in 2012 and 2017, respectively. Interweaving the past with the present, her work renders psychological insights in the day-to-day moments of our lives. Stella serves on the board of directors of The Haiku Foundation.

Author’s website:

Brenda Sutton Rose
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is the author of a novel, Dogwood Blues, and her short stories have appeared in Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Flycatcher Magazine, Ginosko Literary Magazine, Mobius: Journal of Social Change, Montucky Review, and Muddy River Poetry Review, among others. She was nominated for a Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2015 and for a Pushcart Prize in 2018. She is working on her second novel.

Author’s website:

Site contains text, proprietary computer code,
and graphic images that are protected by:

⚡   Many thanks for taking time to report broken links to: KYSOWebmaster [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡