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June 22, 2017 by The Citron Review

by Laton Carter


The word no was replaced with a mushroom. The mushroom was largely the supermarket variety — the button mushroom or its darker cousin crimini — though in some instances neither sufficed, and a slightly more exotic species, such as the Chicken of the Woods, was necessary. Government offices instantly became inundated with fungus. Overly solicitous parents found their shoulder bags and empty passenger seats littered with the things.

A fleshy, spore-bearing, fruiting body — not at all a vegetable, and reliant on metabolizing external organic matter for growth and reproduction. People were incredulous. What was the meaning of this event? Mycologists were stunned with attention.

The power of no is not the power to negate, but rather the power of having been negated. Inside rejection, which is not a refusal of worth but only one of its measurements, lies a small while inextinguishable force — the receiver of no must learn an alternate way to survive.

The largest living single organism on the planet is not the blue whale, but the honey mushroom, its subterranean network of rhizomorphs an unfurling carpet of decomposition. And this was the point when the enduring nuclear stockpile was tapped for the most headstrong of no’s. What would rupture the sound of sky blossomed instead into a loamy sisterhood. Huddled beige caps peppered the animate landscape.


Laton Carter is the author of Leaving (University of Chicago), which received the William Stafford-Hazel Hall Book Award. Poems recently appear, or are forthcoming in: Brilliant Corners, The Minnesota Review, Split Lip Magazine, Sycamore Review, Western Humanities Review, and ZYZZYVA.


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