Friday, March 13, 2020

Black Apples

Black Apples

I was a daylight shadow,
a bride of drought
cast over the mounded world like
a prophecy of night,
living on dandelions and dead leaves

until you gave me,
sour and hard on the flat 
of your incubus palms,
a dozen black apples. Keep them,
you said, for a year. I only ask

that you throw the bones
far away from this dry country
from the death dance of wheat
the victory of locusts
the smoke of the Beast.

Disappear us too close
to the rifting abyss
where the wind's sullen heat
turns the Catherine wheel of change,
show me the hiss of

the scythe in the clouds,
the minarets folded in sand
whose pierced towers pour out
the last blood of solitude sung by
the owl. All our ghosts will join hands.

There's the crack of your laugh;
a ragged breath of earth
to bend and break the dead trees;
the witch-year's burnt up. You and the
drought have gone and I

sit tasting unmourned
the twelvefold sweetness of 
black apples of the storm.

March 2020 
This poem has been slightly revised since first posting.

posted for earthweal Open Link

and Shay's prompt at the Sunday Muse

Catherine wheel:a firework that revolves on a pin, making a wheel of fire or sparks; pinwheel.

Images: Untitled photo, by Horst P Horst for Vogue Magazine, 1930   Public Domain
Arkansas Black Apples, ©sweetsandlife via Atlas Obscura   (see link)   Fair Use


  1. A spectacular poem, Joy....the Catherine wheel of change, the scythe in the clouds, the folded minarets..........."All our ghosts will join hands." Wonderful imagery. I love the sudden sweetness of the black apples of the storm. A poem worth waiting for.

  2. I found the same adjective as Sherry spring forth. So many turns, but this one especially: a ragged breath of earth. ~

  3. There is a synethesia happening here, a crossing of purpose and sense resulting in a third thing, an unexpected thing, a cross-breeding of emotion and experience. The natural world seems to be a full partner in this kinetic threesome, as well. All the lines that Sherry and grapeling liked resonated for me as well, and furthered this feeling of a slow chemical reaction of some kind, from flesh and sky and earth. What could possibly result but black apples and the odd feast they represent? It couldn't be any other way, or so I read.

  4. I love the way this slips in and out of rhyme and the biblical, apocalyptic imagery and tone.Heat, dry air, dust emanate from the page.

  5. Spectacular, Joy. One of those heart-stopping poems which literally has me holding my breath throughout. Your vision is art.

  6. The imagery is fabulous... gripping write!

  7. The bitter is sweetly crafted here with imagery that takes my eyes right to that rifting abyss. Absolutely amazing poetry Joy!!

  8. I like it a lot. And even though I used its picture, I learned of what the Black Apple was. I'd not known of them before, and still really don't. What we have is really a brush apple, or wild plum like we had in Nebraska. Even the true black apple of Tibet is not a true apple. Perhaps more like the "snipes" hunted around the swamps of Louisiana.
    That said, as I read I was reminded of accepting the invitation to "Hotel California", stuck there with the 'black apples' to eat.
    "You can check out any time
    But you can never lesve.*

  9. The wannabe actor in me is dying to take your poem, stand on stage and read it loudly to adoring crowds...for they will adore your words. Stunning.

  10. I am sitting here speechless, this was just a marvelously dark write. You drew me in with each line. It felt like one of my dreams a warning of darker things to come. I don't think I can pick one part I liked better than another.

    It seems so fitting in the turmoil of today.

  11. The shadow of the paramour is the incubus; or rather, one crowns what the other crows. And so storm is not relief from drought but an infernal consequence-- at least, as when dealt by the dreadful croupier, from that hand, black magic suit trumping the white ... How arch and rich this is, how dreadful and true. Maybe an angry bear mama Earth can only play this way, relegating us to the singsong of the trapped and dolorous. But it's love, isn't it, the way an F3 serves up an end of draught with black rain, dem or dese apples. A twelvefold sweetness, indeed, wildly sweeter and more deadly than apples of silver or gold ... I doubt I got a hold of your poem all that well, but this is where reading brings me, reaching with the rest of the damned. - Brendan

  12. This is entire world dried down to essence; a novel in perfect miniature. Amazing.

  13. So, so good. Starting with the bride of drought, and ending with "tasting unmourned /
    the twelvefold sweetness of / black apples of the storm" and everything in-between. Catherine wheel!!

  14. Phrase after phrase and word after word, a masterful write! Sobering and dark.

  15. So many images, intense poetry that makes me feel each phrase. I waver between hope and the darkest hours I imagine. The intensity of your words ride the ripples of my nerves and I let them express what I can't.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats