Fruit

 

Fruit

poems and stories 


   scroll down to read poems and stories in our

Autumn  Issue

 growing weekly from October to December 2019

 

meet the poets and writers


Fruit

 

 


Our first poem for autumn is by Lesley Quayle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesley Quayle is a widely published, prizewinning poet, editor and folk/blues singer. She has a collection, Sessions, (Indigo Dreams) and a pamphlet Songs For Lesser Gods, (Erbacce) featuring her prizewinning series of sonnets of the same name. Her latest pamphlet, Black Bicycle, was published in May 2018 by 4Word Press.

Lesley Quayle – Fall

 

 

 

 

 

Fall 

 

 

 

 

Now is the time for ripening plums and yellow grass,

maize shouldering the sky, hedgerows cut,

sharp and angular – the precise geometry of field edges.

 

I could lie down among vetch and rye-grass,

disturb tiny, starry moths, listen to the hungering

rooks and wait for the first leaf to fall.

 

I may squint at the low sun, hand-cast a shadow

over my brow, and watch the gauzy edge of autumn

fold over blackthorn, savour the chill of summer’s ghost,

 

let wilderness seep through veins, fill up the hollow heart,

a nest of root and twigs and stolen down, close my eyes

while drifting spiders weave their silk,

 

smirr my lashes to placate unfiltered light.

Stay there, ignoring tasks, the scratch and fret

of hour collapsing into hour, like scything nettles,

 

and maybe sleep, time marked by nothing more

than one leaf after another.

 

Lesley Quayle

 

Four Mornings  by Lesley Quayle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo Brandon is based in West Yorkshire. Her pamphlet Phobia and full-length collection, The Learned Goose, are both published by Valley Press. Her next collection, Cures, is due out in 2020. Her work has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies, including The North, Magma, Popshot, Strix, Butchers Dog and The Fenland Reed. You can find her at www.jobrandon.com  

The Learned Goose is available to buy from  Valley Press.

Jo Brandon – The Fall

 

 

The Fall 

 

After ‘The Fall’, Hugo van de Goes, 1479

 

 

 

 

He was happy with my form

till he happened across yours.

Like any child the impulse is to play

not make; your limbs it seems

are more pliable and your hearts

more intricate.

So the fact that I could wind myself

into circles that inspired the sun,

tie myself into copulative knots,

make language in the sand,

meant nothing but more possibilities for you.

We lived together a good while – you wished

your tongue could read the air like mine,

I wished my eyes could talk.

 

We grew further apart.

Your hisses became syllabic,

you whispered to one another.

Tried to meet you in the middle:

hid in bushes growing legs

that lent no length, couldn’t bring me

any closer to your ear.

My face craved reflection,

stung with unread frowns and smiles.

 

I wish, I wish it were as simple

as a piece of fruit.

Truthfully, there was no taboo

hanging  from that tree –

it was just where we played,

but your ideas grew quicker than trees

and you imagined fruits

that would never grow here

 

and they still won’t grow here

just as I don’t grow and everything

without you stays the same.

 

 

Jo Brandon

 

Previously published in The Learned Goose by Jo Brandon (Valley Press, 2015)

 

Poems

Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hilaire is co-author with Joolz Sparkes of London Undercurrents, published by Holland Park Press. She was poet-in-residence at Thrive Battersea in 2017, and has poems published in numerous magazines and in three anthologies from The Emma Press.

For the London Undercurrents blog: 

https://londonundercurrents.wordpress.com

Hilaire – specifications for an orchard

 

 

 

an old brick wall

as tall as a giant

bearded with moss and buddleia

curved like a protecting arm

 

a wooden door

in a throttle of brambles

its purpose long lost to itself

 

grass, wherever it can get,

each chlorophyll pennant

jostling for sunlight

 

a gang of pollen-traffickers

bizz-buzzing and flitting

 

a chair with no sitter

listing to starboard

 

and four fruit trees,

pear and apples,

left to get on with it.

 

their crop is bountiful.

there’s no sign in the orchard

against trespass.

 

 

Hilaire

 

First published in OL’ CHANTY – Chanticleer Magazine Online.

 

park yourself here by Hilaire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry has been published in several journals, such as Amaryllis, London Grip, Panoplyzine, Magma Poetry (online) and Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine. You can find out more about Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com

Lisa Reily – Greek Sunset

 

 

 

I have developed a patience for preparing food,

scouring markets in the heat

for the reward of pungent apricots, peaches and nectarines,

plump cherries and dirt-covered potatoes.

 

I love adding ice to a glass of retsina as we watch the sea in the evenings,

away from the thoughts and madness of the world,

friends and family;

a place to live, and just be.

 

We have a nasty colony of black ants under our backyard table

and other small ants of amber;

I spend hours watching them wrestle, bite each other to the death,

as I sip cool mineral water in the shade.

 

I have the time to see it, and sometimes I interfere,

or ache as I watch one drag its injured body across the concrete.

 

 

Lisa Reily

 

 

nanna’s garden by Lisa Reily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Formerly an actress, Kate Firth is a voice coach based in Barcelona. She has had poems published in various anthologies and magazines. Passionate about poetry as an oral as well as written tradition, she has performed at Bristol, Cheltenham and Winchester poetry festivals.

Kate Firth – Fruity Competition

 

1: Blackberry

 

I could be a black fruit poem:

richness of darkest choicest blackberry ripe,

juicy my tongue,

liquid Blueberry Delight with billberry.

 

A wilderness of bramble and thorn

a wicked thicket

enticing my wild dark words

with fleshy mellow flavour.

 

Rounding my mouth,

swelling my lips, staining

my fingers, my tongue,

guiltlessly shamelessly

announcing my appetite

for purple, for blue

and for you. 

 

One word of me is not enough

you will want more

and more and one more

and just, perhaps,

one more. 

 

You will come with fingers ready,

with buckets and with your children

and you will love me. 

 

I will hide me in hedgerow,

and your children will find me

love me

and eat me before I am ready to ripe me.

 

And many times you’ll walk right past me

because you’ve forgotten

 

I am free for the picking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2: Mango

 

I could mango my words with exotic twist

and tang and peel and stone and sucking stone

and hair and watering tongue and lick and dissolve

to sugar your flesh.

 

Mango with southern scent of Mexico, India, Africa

so sweet within one skin

to outwit your blue blackberry dark forest competition. 

 

I will win with mango slow go,

just wait for me to ripen, wait

 

for my words to arrive and surprise

and startle your eyes awide

and awaken your mind with tease and touch

and soft and silken sticky my caress.

 

Hold you my heaviness,

heavy my juice and catch me peel me

catch my liquid juicy in your cup,

slice me through or suck me whole,

but unpeel me first,

pierce me through my leather my skin my leathery skin

but wait for me first for my ripen

or I will not surprise and pleasure you. 

 

Wait,

for my ripening

to drop from branch

onto your sunlit sill. 

 

Kate Firth

 

The Yew Speaks On St Brigid’s Day by Kate Firth

Crackington Haven on New Year’s Eve by Kate Firth

Strange Spring  by Kate Firth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesley Quayle is a widely published, prizewinning poet, editor and folk/blues singer. She has a collection, Sessions, (Indigo Dreams) and a pamphlet Songs For Lesser Gods, (Erbacce) featuring her prizewinning series of sonnets of the same name. Her latest pamphlet, Black Bicycle, was published in May 2018 by 4Word Press.

Lesley Quayle – Gathering Mushrooms

 

 

 

I met her in the early morning,

muttering through a whitewash of mist,

each footprint a wet hollow of silver

leading from mushroom rings

which nudged the leaf mould

like a clutch of bantam eggs.

 

Old eyes, their spawn of cataracts

scavenging light in dismal pools,

and words, more incantations,

spooling from her lips like broken

threads.  She hastened by

with her cloth full of mushrooms.

 

She eats with the seasons,

gathers and garners as her folk did,

holds ancestors round her like a shawl.

She’s always known weather ways,

crush of snow on the blunt hills,

the tug and snatch of westerlies,

and spring igniting cold valleys.

 

Now she lives away from

the mother eye of the village,

with its carnival of light and noise.

Estranged by dogged pride,

deciphered like a seldom spoken tongue,

she clenches her world in a horned hand,

tight as the mushroom cloth.

 

Lesley Quayle

 

Fall by Lesley Quayle

Four Mornings by Lesley Quayle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry has been published in several journals, such as Amaryllis, London Grip, Panoplyzine, Magma Poetry (online) and Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine. You can find out more about Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com

Lisa Reily – sweet lemons

 

 

 

 

 

 

we climb the path, uneven stone,

reach the small wooden church on the hill;

 

we sit in the cool,

watch Bulgarian saints

eye us from ancient walls,

and small candles flicker

for those who have passed; I light one

for my mother,

and when I step outside, an old woman

plucks a plum from a nearby tree,

and gives it to me.

 

we travel on, over the railway track,

where a gypsy in a sparkling shawl waves to us

from a horse and cart,

a homeless kitten accepts my pat,                                             

and horses, untethered, eat wildflowers.

 

outside our apartment, there is music in the air,

sirtaki, the sounds of Greece;

 

outside, a stranger collects me in the rain,

and I am not scared;

 

a little boy talks to me at the bus stop,

waits by my side

until his mother calls him home;

 

the taverna owner rescues a stray dog,                                                             

washes it, indifferent                                                                                            

to his customers who leave at the sight

of fleas drowned in poisoned rivers;

 

and at our small room, the owner’s son

cleans our clothes for free,

hangs bags of lemons from our door.    

 

Lisa Reily

 

Greek Sunset by Lisa Reily

nanna’s garden by Lisa Reily

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glenn Hubbard has lived in Madrid for 30 years and has been writing poems since 2012. Though fluent in Spanish, he is poetic only in English and has had poems published in a number of magazines. Nature and landscapes are often an inspiration for his writing. Spain has a lot of both.  

Glenn Hubbard – Fruit in the 60s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The grapes languished in a bowl in my nan’s living room,

losing their lustre as they dulled under dust.

They might have been ornamental, the stuff of still life.

Eating them felt like an afterthought.

 

Dinner was there to fill you up and puddings were entertainment. 

But fresh fruit lacked all purpose except, it seemed, to keep teeth clean.

Hence that chimp on the TV screen, brandishing a toothsome

apple as the plummy voice-over lauded its evident dental hygiene.

 

Fruit could come out of a tin, of course, a totally different matter 

as we gathered round the table to look on with drooling anticipation 

as the sweet syrup supplied the required lubricity and

our afters slithered slurpingly into the waiting bowl.

 

There they lay, expectant, those halved pears 

made in a place called Bartlett. Ice cream from 

Naples slipped in beside them in a scandalously

calorific act of consummation. It was only natural!

 

 

Glenn Hubbard

 

The Great Banded Grayling… by Glenn Hubbard

Ousel-Cock by Glenn Hubbard

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Bone’s work has appeared in various journals in the U.K. and the U.S., and in numerous anthologies.

His first collection In the Cinema (Playdead Press) was published in 2014 and a pamphlet Plainsong (Indigo Dreams) was published in 2018.

Stephen Bone – Medlars 

 

 

Medlars

 

 

 

From the cupboard under your stairs

you pick one from its tray.

A sort of apple, open-ended,

on the turn.

 

Try, you urge, a spoon waved

like a hypnotist’s chain. Reluctantly,

a child braced for medicine I open up

to be fed a scoop of decay.

 

Good ? You ask, moist rot melting

to the cusp of sweetness. I tremble a nod

as you slough off your snakeskin boots;

coil yourself into a chair.

 

Stephen Bone

 

First published in The Interpreter’s House

 

Ode to a Giant Waterlily by Stephen Bone

Sundews by Stephen Bone

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allen Ashley is co-editor with Sarah Doyle of the anthology Humanagerie (Eibonvale Press, UK, 2018). He has recently been published in anthologies from Black Hare Press and NewCon Press. He has previously appeared three times on the Words for the Wild website.

Allen Ashley – Strawberry Girl 

 

 

Strawberry Girl

 

 

 

 

 

Soon it will be time again to prepare our offering in thanks for the fruit harvest. Many belief systems teach that life is a recurring cycle and our abundant continuum of planting, reaping and celebrating through sacrifice would seem to confirm this.

We have asked that our religious practices be properly recognised through official channels. The probing, the gawking, the constant trolling and threats of interference have to stop.

Her lips this year shall be a bright cherry. Just a hint of a pout. Straw and trimmed vines for her hair. In keeping with tradition, pears and certain varieties of apple have been used to give feminine curvature to her body. I have chosen strawberries for her eyes, complete with the small crown of leafage retained so as to give an open, honest expression to the face. The verisimilitude of this year’s golem is both striking and convincing.

Which brings its own problems. You may remember the court case where our village was accused of murdering one of our earlier creations. The judge rightly ruled that: as she was not human there was no case to answer. But the stigma stuck. A pungent, fermenting stain like mouldering grapes or cider spilled on woollen clothing.

The following year we made a boy. Nature did not approve and we half-starved due to a resultant paltry harvest.

It’s a truism that even those who are spiritually unaware would still acknowledge: for things to live, other things must die. Move over Granddad and let me have the keys to your house, your job, your bank account… For everything that glitters something else must suffer in dullness.

The strawberry girl lives for a week. She moves but doesn’t speak. She smells divine and many become light-headed in her company. She seems to see, to gaze… but can she really be thinking? She has no brain. She is all pith, water, citric acid, seeds… and flesh.

She brings colour and vivacity to the swiftly shortening and darkening days.

She dances with the corn dollies, stands face to face with the scarecrows. She is a country tradition that some in our country would seek to dispense with.

They are narrow-minded, urban consumer-guts who have no knowledge of and who can make no link between their fortune at endless choice and availability and the sacrifices and privations necessary to achieve such a cornucopia. I tell myself this and I share it with you now: the pulping is necessary. The few – the one – must fall so that the many survive and thrive.

She’s not real.

She’s real.

She’s not human.

She’s as alive as you and me.

There will be another year, another harvest. Another strawberry girl.

 

(In memory of Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929-2018.)

 

Allen Ashley

 

The Teatime Tarzan by Allen Ashley

Wildflo Wers by Allen Ashley

Greetings from the British Countryside by Allen Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maeve Bruce is a professional storyteller – a writer, editor, journalist and poet. She writes about place and the unseen stories buried in the landscape, in nature, history and folklore. She draws a thread between the past and the present, reconnecting people with places and a sense of belonging. When she is not wandering around the Cotswold countryside where she lives, she can be found exploring the wilder landscapes of the British Isles or travelling to more distant places, notebook in hand. Read more about her work on her website:storiesofplace.co.uk 

Maeve Bruce – Apples 

 

 

Apples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At my childhood home in Somerset, we had an acre and a half of old orchard, bound on the west side by the churchyard, on the north by a brook. In the spring, snowdrops and daffodils grew under the trees and when the weather got warmer, I took root there too, back against the bark, book in hand, dreaming beneath the leaves.

 

I read of saints and soldiers, wolves and witches, lost worlds, golden days. Those stories are bound in my memory with lichen growing on gnarly branches, the smell of wood and grass, earth and apple.

 

The harvest brought us all together. When it was fine, from the youngest to the oldest, we went out from the house in the morning with ladders, chattering and picking, gathering up windfalls, loading the trailer and hauling it back, calling across the field and bagging the yield into hessian sacks. We sorted the good fruit from the bruised, the eaters from the cookers, the bittersharps from the bittersweets. We ate bread and cheese on plastic plates without napkins at a trestle table in our wellingtons, normal rules suspended for one day, for just this one shining day in the orchard.

 

Afterwards, good apples were wrapped in paper and spread out in rows in the loft in the barn, gifts for the year long. The cinnamon scent of apples simmering on the stove filled the house, as my mother in her apron stewed fruit for the larder. My father made cider from the imperfect apples, the disappointing ones, with a press he built from a landrover jack just before he chopped the end off his finger splitting logs. I remember his shout and searching in the rough grass by the wood shed for a bit of flesh with the nail still attached. We never found it.

 

Some of the apples went to a big cider-maker at Burrow Hill. The man gave us a pound a sack and said they weren’t worth any more, apples were two a penny in Somerset. Any dreams we had of making our fortune quickly faded. He has gone now and the cider press closed and they built over our orchard, the people that came afterwards. But the apples stay ever sweet in the memory and their names remain, wonderful strange, like an old incantation – Beauty of Bath, Dunnings Russet, Curry Codlin, Fairmaid, Hangdown, Hoary Morning, Slack Me Girdle, Tom Putt,  Sack and Sugar, Kingston Black, Rough Pippin, Whittles Dumpling, Green Pearmain, Mealy Late Blossom, Burrow Hill Early, Sheep’s Nose.

 

  

 

Maeve Bruce

 

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