Art: "Star in Bloom" by Liam Wilson

Fiction: "Canadian Thistle Terrorists" by E.S. Oliver

To whom it may concern, 


I have a most epic tale of vegetal warfare to report. Upon buying this land, the General Husband and I surmised that the previous landowners must have been masochists. Of the forty acres we purchased, on the two acres nearest the home structure are at least five known patches of particularly pervasive plants that go by the name of Canadian thistle. Despite its name, it does not remotely resemble our friendly and polite northern neighbours. It is a scourge that disrupts the delicate balance of our local flora, choking the natives out like self-serving pilgrims during a breaking of the bread.  


Out of love for the resident bee population, I chose to let the enemy bloom, and provide a veritable food buffet for our fuzzy citizens. This was pure folly and has now created a violent confrontation, as the alpacas will not touch the prickly land pirate, and the roots have undoubtedly begun to encroach on the septic tank pipes—affectionately referred to by General Husband as “poop pipes”. Once the subterranean tentacles breach the waste catacombs, we will find ourselves under siege by noxious gasses, rather than noxious weeds. Needless to say, I girded my loins and attempted to eradicate these needled ne’er-do-wells. 


Upon the first siege, I quickly recognized that I had encountered the eco-terrorists with the absolute wrong gloves and a cheap pair of dull shears. An hour into the incursion, and only halfway through the patch, the sun began to defeat this wilted warrior with the aid of the barbed-grass-brigade otherwise known as “cheatgrass”. Exhausted and sustaining vicious jabs from horticultural arrowheads in my unmentionables, I resigned to concluding the Battle of Thistlesburg the next day. I retreated; subjugated by the land’s invaders, but hopeful by the progress made.  


The following morn came to pass, and I’m afraid to say, this warrior’s back is not in the fighting shape it was in my twenties. Lying helplessly on the couch, like an obese porpoise washed ashore, I leered out the window at a newly unearthed patch of the herbaceous hell-spawn. It carelessly swayed in the wind, as if it were taunting me in my agony. I now know why it is covered in barbs—because it absolutely revels in human suffering. A few whiskeys down the hatch, and I soon forgot my botanical foes, as well as my rank.  


I awoke with the next sunrise, my strength renewed, and declared battle on the colony of Canadian Thistleton; a smaller, yet faster-growing platoon of hypodermic-needled-Satan-spawn that has somehow figured out how to grow through a massive rock outcropping and was multiplying at an alarming rate. 


Armed with a new, sharper weapon and much thicker cow-hide gloves—I am happy to report that not only did I win the battle of Thistleton, but right next door was my poor native cacti and sunflower allies being suffocated by the nefarious beauty known as bindweed. Hacking and pulling away—we nipped another larger battle in the bud.  


Tomorrow, I will undoubtedly endure the paralysis that accompanies waging war on such pernicious verdure. I surmise the chance is great that I will find myself unable to even fill my canteen with coffee—but for now, I have deemed the day victorious. 


Published July 20th 2022

E.S. Oliver lives in the Colorado mountains with a gaggle of rescue dogs, alpacas and extremely loud ducks. Oliver’s work has appeared in the Las Vegas Sun, The Dillydoun Review and Beyond Words Literary Magazine. She also has a forthcoming flash fiction appearance in Alien Buddha Zine (July 2022).

“Star in Bloom” derives from Liam Wilson’s collection of 77 pour paintings of acrylic on canvas and wood. One of these paintings provides the cover art for “the after: poems only a planet could love”, which is published by Poets’ Choice and will be released in the spring of 2022. Other pieces from this collection are forthcoming in “Beyond Words” an on line literary magazine. His works can be viewed on Instagram at @bouringpaintings. Liam is currently a student in Media Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.