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Forbidden Flowers converses in a radical language of desire through bold, provocative poems. Cornue and Morton’s poetry ruminates on the human condition and its relationship to mortality, love, and sexual prowess, from the perspective of powerful, queer poets in a patriarchal world. 


With references to Charles Baudelaire, Frankenstein and Valley of the Dolls, Forbidden Flowers is an active dreamscape of literary and cinematic fantasies. Yet Cornue and Morton’s theater interacts with late stage capitalism, punctuated with world weary humor and American ennui. These poems are just a step away from death’s cliff, but always willing to risk another turn at the roulette wheel. 




Spleen is a poetry collective of desire founded by two queer women.


Carmen Cornue (she/her) resides in San Francisco and her work is deeply indebted to French poetry, international arthouse films and classic American cinema. Her poetry has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Apricity Press and other publications. She holds positions as a poetry reader with the Los Angeles Review and judge with NYC Midnight. 


Donna Morton (she/they) writes poetry inspired by filmic landscapes, morbid literary cues, and the lifestyles of meandering flâneur and cloistered nun. Morton’s poetry has been published in The Shoutflower and Fauxmoir Lit Mag, among others. Donna writes under several pen names and also wrote a Mad Lib horror story based on experiences in spooky, swampy Pennsylvania.  


Both poets have been featured in Southword: New International Writing, Mad Gleam Press and on the podcast Beyond the Screams. Forbidden Flowers was a finalist in Munster Literature Centre’s Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition in 2021 and Host Publications 2022 Chapbook Prize.


Find Carmen and Donna reading their poetry on Instagram, @spleen1857.


Find out more about Carmen at



Forbidden Flowers by Carmen Cornue & Donna Morton

  • Here’s to the ladies who lurch, raising their cracked glasses in dark celebration of the freshest hell to date: 2023. Carmen Cornue and Donna Morton synthesize the Cimmerian lessons of Jackie Collins, Anaïs Nin, and Jean des Esseintes to produce a poetry that acidly and elegantly reflects this conflagrant stage of late capitalism. Bad sex, bad credit, good faith: The poets wobble through a world of bloated consumerism that’s cynical, suffering, and dumb with open hearts, tender words, and exquisite imagery, forcing us to find the diamonds inside so many hideous acres of rough. Cornue and Morton, like Eddie and Pats or Cristal and Nomi, have frighteningly great fun as it all burns away. Aren’t they a gas? 

    —Alex Jovanovich


    In Forbidden Flowers, Carmen Cornue and Donna Morton of Spleen unleash the full heat of poetic desire. These poems are as much in conversation with folklore, 21st century catastrophe, the corporeal and incorporeal, myth, cinema, religion, and writers of the past as they are with each other. 

    Read and you too will often ask "which dead poet will hold my hand?" These poets put all cards on the table with lusty organs, Vaseline, backseat gushing, and Jesus' sucked toes. When you read Forbidden Flowers, you are in for a sexy, thought-provoking, and incredible time.

    –Kevin Dublin, author of Eulogy and How to Fall in Love in San Diego


    The sexy poems in Forbidden Flowers play with slippery personae: friends conspiring, lovers plotting role play, empowered myth-making. These persona poems are freeing as they shed layers of identity in the performance and ask not just who Donna Morton and Carmen Cornue are, but when do they exist? Where are they? The speakers peek out from beneath a frilly undercurrent of libidinal desire to proclaim an ultimate fantasy, “My student loans melted/at my feet like a velvet robe.” The rattle of some ancient feeling echoes through these poems, replete with myth, old Hollywood, and suffering under capitalism. These bantering, conversational poems create imagery just how I like it: horny and specific.

     —Amy Lawless, author of My Dead and Broadax


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