flash fictionIssue 7

I’m a Corpse Flower, and I’ve Got a Bone(r) to Pick with You, Botany

Shannon Frost Greenstein

So.

Botany.

Let me just say it, right out loud, because it’s what everyone is already thinking, anyway.

I’m essentially a giant penis.

I mean, sure. I’m more. I’m more than just my enormous stamen. I know. I am my absolute uselessness for years on end, for example, before I finally bloom. I am my incredibly short shelf life, my 36 hours of living and reproducing and fulfilling my evolutionary destiny. I am my pungent aroma of decaying human flesh; I am my bloody-hued petals, the maroon of the lips a flesh-eating clown, the burgundy of the blood of the bourgeoisie.

But, at the end of the day, I’m really just a colossal phallus. And I can’t help but feel that is all I ever am to you, too.

It’s right there in my name. Amorphophallus titanum; or, from the Latin – and quite literally – “Giant Penis without Form.” Fucking hell, dude…did you have trouble conjugating “Mystical Turgid Dong” or something all those years ago, and that’s how we all got here?

I mean, that’s the whole problem, Botany. Dr. Odoardo Beccari discovered me in…what? 1878? And no one has thought to revisit this taxonomy since the good ole Industrial Revolution? No one has spared a thought in one hundred and fifty years about how this might sound to civilized society?

I think it’s time for a hard truth.

Are you ready for it, Botany? Ok, here it is: You can’t get past my giant cock; can’t get past it at all. You’ve got more penis envy than a hysterical Freudian case study. I don’t know if it’s jealousy or obsession or an overwhelming sense of personal inferiority, but it’s really not the best look for you.

Because then….to top it all off…you unironically dubbed me the “corpse flower???” Like, that was the best nickname you could come up with? That was a choice, my friend, and let’s be real…it’s just a one-two punch from which I’ll never really recover.

Do you have any idea what it’s like? I’m ten feet tall, I’m a creature from a Dr. Seuss fever dream, I sleep for ten years at a time, I reek like rotting meat, and I die within a weekend.  I’m walking toxic masculinity, and you decided – for some unknown reason – to immortalize that in the annals of science? I mean, a carrion flower? A penis without form? Give me a break…talk about heavy-handed metaphors.

Little Victorian English girls were forbidden from even seeing an image of me, do you remember? Do you remember why you did that, Botany? It’s because of all the dick, my friend; it’s because of all my giant, luscious dick. And you’d think that would be an asset, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to find a pollinator in a span of time roughly equivalent to the director’s cut of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

And not to beleaguer the point – but just to add insult to injury – I’m not even the official flower of the Bronx anymore. Like, radical honesty here, the borough used to be proud of me. It used to look to its malodorous son with pride, because I was distinct; I was worthy. But then it got all obsessed with its “image,” and now the county flower of the Bronx is the fucking calla lily. I mean, why didn’t they just pick a fucking dandelion or a plastic fucking peony?!?! The disrespect is off the fucking charts.

So, I’m begging you. Call me something else…anything else. Anything but the giant penis without form, and especially anything but the corpse flower, because I’m fucked up enough as it is, and I’m tired of being the bearded lady in this freak show of Sumatran botany.

I’ll just be here, not blooming, for another seven to ten years. But when I wake up…and you’ll know when I’m up, Botany, because of the stench, you’ll know…well, we’ll have a whole day, day-and-a-half to settle this, and you’d BEST BELIEVE I’m prepared to march into this showdown in the spirit of Carolus Linnaeus with both guns fucking blazing.

Because I’m not just a penis.

I self-pollinate, so I’m also a really smelly pussy.


Shannon Frost Greenstein (she/her) is the author of “These Are a Few of My Least Favorite Things” (Poetry, Really Serious Literature, 2022), “Correspondence to Nowhere” (Nonfiction, Bone & Ink Press, 2022), and “An Oral History of One Day in Guyana” (Fiction, Sledgehammer Lit, 2022). Shannon is a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy and a multi-time Pushcart Prize and BOTN nominee. Follow her on Twitter: @ShannonFrostGre, or shannonfrostgreenstein.com.