The Dandelion Speaks of Survival

Quintin Collins

When they see me rise, a nebula of coronas, sun-
burst spires strewn among their bluegrass lawns,
they will come for me. When my roots fan a maze
around their chrysanthemums, interlace a cage
around their petunias, grab the life I’m so often denied,
they will come for me. They will come for me
when I yawn from a driveway fissure,
when my leaves sprawl over their gravel beds.
They will come with hands clenched, garden shears
to snap their jaws, weed wackers to split my body,
chemicals that wither and disintegrate me. They will come
with mower blades sharp, the thunder of gasoline
combusting in the engine. They will come
with tillers and hoes and rakes and knives and torches.
Don’t they know that when the wind rocks my halo,
I cast seeds into the sky? I clutch earth tighter than English bluebells.
I survive their hands and their instruments.
I survive every way they spill my bitter milk.
I survive. I survive. I survive. I survive
again and again. When they sharpen new tools,
arm themselves with professional-grade sprays,
call landscapers to scrape out my existence,
call me weed, call me nuisance, call me pest,
say I am not welcome, poison this soil to stunt my growth,
know that I survive. I spring forth a field of gold,
my petals kissed by morning dew. I bloom like the sun spills
over the horizon. I stretch my stem and roots
beyond all borders. I split their concrete and this earth.

Previously published in the Lily Poetry Review.

*Writing Prompt: Write a dramatic monologue from the point of view of a plant from your hometown. As you write, consider how that plant reflects the place where you grew up and the person you are now. Also, consider the relationship between the personal and political in regard to your choice in plant and how that connection shapes the poem.

Spring Moon

Martha McCollough

my mind turns and turns
a restless dog uneasy in the warm room
wanting to chase the moon
to roll in starlit mud
splash in puddles get filthy
to meet other strays by the pond
in moonlight to howl together
to follow coyotes
to observe the owl hunting
in exemplary silence
my mind is tired
of turning over symptoms
of telling the frightened body
go to sleep it’s nothing
nothing it will be morning soon

Previously published in the Lily Poetry Review.

*Mass Poetry Writing Prompt: The natural world shifts with the changing seasons, and so do our bodies. Reflect on how your body reacts at the junctures between seasons. What do you feel? What do you fear? What do you excitedly anticipate? How you would personify your body in that moment? Freely jot down your thoughts, then play with the arrangement of the words on the page. Allow the poem to move and shift, and take on a unique shape.

This issue of The Hard Work of Hope is produced in partnership with Lily Poetry Review.


Quintin Collins

Quintin Collins (he/him) is a writer, editor, and Solstice MFA Program assistant director. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sidereal Magazine, Superstition Review, Glass Poetry, and elsewhere. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Quintin’s other accolades include Best of the Net nominations as well as semifinalist and finalist positions for writing prizes. His first full-length collection of poems, The Dandelion Speaks of Survival, is forthcoming from Cherry Castle Publishing in 2021. See more of his work on qcollinswriter.com.


Martha McCollough

Originally from Detroit, Martha McCollough now lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. She has an MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. Her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in Radar, Zone 3, Tampa Review, and Salamander, among others. Her chapbook, Grandmother Mountain, was published by Blue Lyra Press in October 2019.