Pretentious Flair


Sturdy stalks emanate among
Sword-shaped leaves
Ascending to five feet,
Dwarfing surrounding plants

Spires topped with tubular florets
Blazing, ombre torches of
Reddish-orange, coral, and canary blooms
Torch lilies, red hot poker plants, Kniphofia

Usher butterflies, bees, hummingbirds
To their safe harbor and delectable nectar
A flower bed’s ostentatious focal point
Dominating from spring to fall

By Suzanne Cottrell

torch lily plant in garden
A mysterious plant appeared in one of our raised flower beds, perhaps a seed gift delivered by a bird. Calling upon my father’s gardening knowledge, I learned that it was a Kniphofia, better known as a torch lily or red hot poker plant. It continues to be the show stopper of our flower bed.


photo of authorSuzanne Cottrell, an Ohio Buckeye by birth, lives with her husband and three rescue dogs in rural Piedmont North Carolina. An outdoor enthusiast and retired teacher, she enjoys hiking, biking, gardening, and Pilates. She loves nature and its sensory stimuli and particularly enjoys writing and experimenting with poetry and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in The Avocet, The Weekly Avocet, The Remembered Arts Journal, Plum Tree Tavern, The Skinny Poetry Journal, Three Line Poetry, Haiku Journal, Tanka Journal, Poetry Quarterly, Women’s Voices Anthology (These Fragile Lilacs Literary Journal), The Pop Machine (Inwood Indiana Press), and Nailpolish Stories, A Tiny and Colorful Literary Journal.

One thought on “Pretentious Flair

  1. I learned something new as I read your poem today, Suzanne. I only knew these plants as “Red Hot Pokers.” I’ve seen them in my mother’s flower beds over the years. When My aunt died a few years ago, I inherited some of her prized Red Hot Pokers, too. They bring my thoughts back many years to my own childhood when all my relatives who lived in our village and in the nearby town, had homes with Red Hot Pokers growing in their gardens.

    I love the s-sounds of this poem. “Sturdy stalks,” “sword-shaped,” “leaves,” “ascending,” and more, as we listen to the song of the seasons from late spring to early fall. Red Hot pokers. ” Yes, “ostentatious” and stunning.

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