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Erotic Fruit

May 2003

"The apples in the cellar
are black and dying inside their skins
They pray all night in their bins
but nobody listens;
they will be neither food nor trees."

-  Annie Dillard,quoted in Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write

The Diane Lockward poem that we use as a model, "The Fruitful Woman," might have evolved from a simple prompt about using a fruit as a starting place. They are great kinesthetic objects for students to examine. They are sensual in all the classical ways. In Fruitflesh, Gayle Brandeis uses the entire range of fruits as starting points for writing activities (follow the link to see a few excerpts). And poems have long used fruits as symbols of temptation and the erotic.

Did you ever get assigned "Goblin Market" by Christina Rosetti? A long poem that I didn't even want to begin to analyze for a college class - but then as I read, I was surprised by its language. This is Christina Rosetti?

The prompt this month is an erotic fruit poem. Perhaps, as in Dillard's excerpt above, you might look at the fruit as the voice, or select any one of the sensual aspects of the fruit or find humor in the topic. If you can't quite reach erotic - like humor, it's tough to pull off - how about sensual?

For more on on poetry and a chance to comment, visit the Poets Online blog.


It started with Eve
Many, many years ago
Years before I had even been born
It started with a simple girl
Growing into a simple woman
Whose actions would be anything but
It started when this girl was still the eve of human kind
Her body flourished from the seed
Grew ripe and bountiful with each new unfolding
Cheeks bursting with bright pink color
And eyes shiny as if watered with morning dew
Lips the color of newly burst cherries,
Escaping their seed to enjoy life, and to be enjoyed
Her breasts were round and full, yet not sagging with the weight of their nutrition
She was more than just delicious
She was life itself
Eve could feel this surging within her core
Reveled in her delectability and freshness
The desire to feed and to be fed woke her up at night
Made her want to shake loose and fall from her binding
The tree that held her was called knowledge
Knowledge of everything her body and mind could create
Knowledge that her body could feel, and her heart longed to know
And so she followed what nature was telling her
No longer withstanding her impulses and pulls
She was fresh
She was delicious and she wanted him to know
To germinate and let more fruit blossom

And this was on the eve of human kind
For on the next day, the body that once was called beautiful
The spirit once flowering, but never free
Had been tasted
And as punishment for having such an appetite,
Plucked form the very ground that prompted the best growth
Never to flourish again without scrutiny
A womb never to ripen into its own
And so as the world grew, brightly colored and bursting
The fruit of woman kind would forever be marked,
No longer a flawless skin
But bruised by the fall from the tree that once nurtured our seed.

Mary Hippler


This balmy February has
forced the plum tree limbs
you pruned last spring
into premature emission

early shoots disturb the
careless symmetry of
a tree whose training
started late in life

Last August I canned a
batch of orange-gold jam
from its small firm fruit
and in mid-September a
more pleasing hue:
overripe plums mixed
with strawberries from your
transplanted beds --
more inviting to look at and laced with
lazy skin.

In December I cracked a jar
from five summers ago
(long before you came
to tend this garden):
Brown now,
the jam smelled of raisins

dry, thick
stored in darkness
aging as though
dying to be drunk
to be ripe enough
for tasting.

Mary L Phoebe Adams


ripe and supple
i shimmer in the light
take a bite
taste my sweet pulp
touch of tartness
let my juices ooze
wet your lips
yearn for me
in the night
clutch the pit
of my flesh
Marie A. Mennuto-Rovello
I'm not nuts for you, he said,
not in love.
I know you enjoyed
my fruit smoothies,
but stop coming
down here:
you are deported
from the republic
of my shorts.
Don't get me wrong,
you could peel my jeans
like nobody else,
you read my label, baby,
you spoke in tongues.
But after four whole years
this banana must split
for more tropical climes,
better suited
for growing fruit.
I know:
it's a jungle out there,
but potassium isn't precious--
apricots are another fine source--
you will get your bellyful.
This time: don't spoil
yourself on unfruitful efforts
and don't clean forget:
you're banned
from this juice bar.

Victoria Reiners


“Do not bring this fruit into the hotel”
Stated the poster in front of the elevators.
Years later, the prize, a durian, with its foul-smelling rind
And a delightful tasting, custardy interior,
Was found in Chinatown and brought home for a luscious treat.

Cool, dark-red cherries bitten from their stems, one by one,
Roll for a minute in my mouth
Before juicily relinquishing their form to tentative teeth and tongue.

Paper-thin cucumber slices lie resting on my closed eyes
Extracting the poisons in the dark circles caused by crying over the loss of Tom.
The glass of sweetened iced tea at my side will give me the energy to go on.

A fragrant, flowery cantaloupe, the most basic of melons,
Is summer all year round.
Its slippery, microscopically netted inside--
A scoop of suntan lotion between my shoulder blades.

Turning cartwheels of delight,
I slip into my lover’s arms.

Ellen Kaplan


The poem for the prompt
Had her saying what I gave You,
Always the sensuous delight
Of I, giving, you getting.

That strikes me as
A bite of plastic fruit,
What they call in LA
Airline stewardess plastic people
Or in sitcoms
Silicon teats and arse.

Let's get away from
The erotic and slow motioned songs
And talk of who
Gives what to whom and why and where.

Sanford Weil talks of the gift
He gives the share holders
Of my bank, Citibank
Not taking the bonus of 23 mil
Having given the bank
A loss of one billion.

How generous not to take,
How outrageous to give
To the unaware, a goose egg profit.

Then there is my ditzy
Sister-in-law, close to menopause
Who says of her imperial ova,
They ain't going to be given
To any ordinary bloke
With her royal we parents
Beaming in the back ground,
Their line will be the last
As in a Poe short story
Given to the fires of eternity.

Take Sara Flores
The Puerto Rican aide
Whose husband gives her babies
And is off and running away.
" I am given four handsome sons
Still I always know men run."
So once in a while
I let him give me his hand
Knowing not to give more.

The gifts of taste and touch
That beauty gives to you
Without reserved reluctance are love.

Edward N. Halperin


It seems I have a way with melons,
which others have observed and commented upon,
requiring me to explicate this gift
upon presentation of such luscious fare.

The method I'll describe, but not the magic,
which lies within my hands, nostrils, and soul.
(I have been told that I have healing hands.)

Among the various shapely globes, you know,
I really tend to favor one, but which -
rough veined cantaloupe, gross to the touch?
Pale caressible honeydew so smooth
a nymph's buttock readily comes to mind?
I can discern the very best of these,
but svelte and long-shanked cranshaw I prefer.

With both hands I raise the golden pods
to my flared, eager, and attentive nostrils
that I might discern the sweet scent of ripeness.
My hands now subtly shift, one to each end,
half globes to fondle as I sniff along
the canary belly of the prospective prize.
I then gently press the naveled half orb
for supple yielding to my pressing thumb,
then shift to nippled end to test as well.

This done, I search upon the body of the bulb
for a tender, darkened, oval beauty mark
heralding the sweetness of ripe maturity.

Then cleaved in twain and seeds wantonly dispersed,
her pale pink flesh cries out for savoring.

I'm not so good with pears.

Ben Copito


Oh the frenzy of the Spring!
Wielding greatest nature-power,
the busy buzzing bees on wing
roll in pollen’s fruiting flower
to scatter DNA about.
Among all flowers and blooming trees
- without intent or sexy shout -

they ferry change into the breeze.
The apple and the peach and pear
- resulting from the bees at play -
hit the ground with wealth to share,
to seed the earth’s seductive clay.

But fruit un-plucked upon the tree
must envy those on the ground and see
itself as but a dying thing
with never another flower to bring.

Catherine M. LeGault


Their luscious flesh is over-rated
Dripping juices leave you sated
But an hour -- then stale-dated
Past the prime is garbage fated.

Though my plumpness has caved in
My form encased in wrinkled skin
Still, concentrated flesh can win
At sweetness over tree-branch kin.

Young sisters ripen in the sun
Flaunt roundness but to me men come
To remedy a stopped-up tum
Prune always chosen over plum.

Violet Nesdoly


I need an onion
for the layers
and the bitterness
and for the crying

I need a pomegranate
for the effort involved
in making all the bits a mouthful

I need a kumquat
just for the sound of its name

I need a banana
for the poetic tension
between its shape
and its essential meekness

And I need grapes
To dangle just beyond the reach
of my eager lips

Paul Milne


This morning I held a photo,
This morning I held a peach,
I closed my eyes and sighed,
Feeling the soft skin easy curve,
Firm yet delicate easily bruised,
Touching softly with finger tips,
Feeling each individual hair,
I brought it close to my face,
The aroma filled my head,
It swims while my heart aches,
Longing to bring it to my lips,
Remembering the sweetness of your taste,
I have a photo and a peach,
The photo lets me see you,
Your eyes, smile and glee,
I place the peach beside the frame,
Never forgetting you.

J. Armstrong


Shining like black jewels
blackberries clash in the shade
of gray green leaves and purple thorned stems.
Blackberries are fruit within fruit, each node
crowding against it's neighbor and ushered off
the white crown together.
In my palm, I marvel
at their total blackness, their marbled blackness
and whiteness and redness underneath; they roll
soft and firm, shiny and dull, crown and cave.
Blackberries, like panthers with tiny seed
hearts, crawl between the teeth.
Blackberries, like wolves, circle just out of reach
and wait for the right moment to leap.

L. M. Wolf


On the table,
a pear.

His arrow
flies to her breast.
She flings it back at him
in a tornado of colors that burn and bleed.
She fingers his bow. He paints circles
around her nipples.
On the table,

a pear.
more than still life.