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October 2016

I love serendipity. I was looking at poems online looking for inspiration and came across one by Julie Kane titled "Maraschino Cherries."  I have a soft and rather sweet spot for maraschino cherries. In my childhood, they were something I loved to pilfer from our refrigerator. As an adult, I still love them in a manhattan cocktail. Julie's poem made me think of another maraschino cherry poem that I have always liked - "Refrigerator" by Thomas Lux. I definitely identify with Kane's:

Three little girls on the morning after,
out in the kitchen poking around
for cherries soaked in whiskey like a bomb
of grown-up secrets.

They were bolder than I was in my youth. Actually, I can't recall my parents making any cocktail with those cherries that I might have stolen with some booze.  I think my mother used the cherries only on top of ice cream sundaes. Like Thomas Lux, my childhood refrigerator contained

not a lot,
and what there is (a boiled potato
in a bag, a chicken carcass
under foil) looking dispirited,
drained, mugged. This is not
a place to go in hope or hunger.

It was dull vault. But there was one item that stood out:

heart red, sexual red, wet neon red,
shining red in their liquid, exotic,
aloof, slumming
in such company: a jar
of maraschino cherries. Three-quarters
full, fiery globes, like strippers
at a church social.

In rereading Lux's poem, I was surprised to find that he also can not recall seeing them used in a drink, or on ice cream. He doesn't even recall anyone even popping one in their mouth. They were something to be passed on like a family heirloom.

and, if I never ate one,
it was because I knew it might be missed
or because I knew it would not be replaced
and because you do not eat
that which rips your heart with joy.

Though I am very tempted to make our October writing prompt just maraschino cherries, that may be a bit limiting. So, we are expanding to any fruit in a poem that centers around one type. It might be nice if it is also sexy and exotic, or like a bomb of grown-up secrets or like strippers at a church social.

Look at our blog post for this prompt for links to Kane and Lux reading their poems.

For more on all our prompts and other things poetic, check out the Poets Online blog.


I sometimes think of your heart
that floats in your chest,
useless as a maraschino cherry
marinating in its own juices
in cold glass on an empty shelf
for years untouched.

How many times did I try to twist
the lid, to hold the red globe
above crimson lips,
taste its smooth skin, rough flesh...
a fullness of taste.

Everything is disintegrated now:
the cherry, jar, fridge, kitchen;
an atom bomb testing ground,
wiped away in one perfect
moment of clarity
as delicious as your heart.

Lena Guth


The basket tilts, the bottle leans, the fruit
spills across the table toward the edge, all
caught in that precarious moment just
before they fall. Apples yellow and red
set off the white cloth, the bottle green
and black, the unassuming plate of bread.
Light enters from the left, spreads up across
the boards, mute, pied, dappled brown and rust.

Act of being, stasis before time’s thrust
hurls all into chaos, a moment set
on edge, Cezanne’s Basket of Apples stands,
like all still lifes, to hold us fraught and dumb.
Against the force of change, life paused, caught,
saved as a flash on canvas until it,
too, disintegrates, falls, and disappears,
fruit of the earth and man’s eternal sin.

Robert Miller


Creamy sweet and slippery to peel
A bold yellow assault of color
beneath red green chameleon skin
With such abundant juice
that you cannot eat it daintily
You will find yourself slurping its flesh
from knife to parted lips, Blade to open mouth
Your face as sticky and slick as an eager lover’s
The work is worth the treat

My friend grew up eating them
in the Dominican Republic
She climbed the tall, old trees
in her beloved abuela’s backyard
And from their long, dark green leaves
amidst the scented tiny white petals
she plucked and devoured as she wished
Flesh upon flesh
Ripe, fragrant, yielding

Offered to the gods by those seeking favor
it was the mango that almost wholly sustained her
during her cancer treatments
It was all her body would accept
It remembered it, allowed it to enter and remain
She closed her eyes and took it in like sacred wafer
nourishing her wounded soul and weakened body
Sweet, wet and full of life

It carried childhood secrets
and ancient stories of Ganesh and the Buddha
It spilled out long hot days of innocence
It dripped of love and loss, fortune and fertility
It whispered in Spanish
I am the fruit of your youth
and the bearer of life
Take me – I am yours

Terri J. Guttilla


Grandpa Frank loved playing
pranks on us kids. When he lost
half of his middle finger in an accident,
it was yet another tool to add to
his bag of tricks.

i remember the day he took
the pickle jar half filled with
cherries from the little room with
the green door, The pale, fleshy
fruit sat in a clear liquid.

With a giggle in his voice, he
beckoned me to try one. Compelled,
I reached for one and swallowed it whole.
I was consumed by a tingling sensation as
the potent fruit traveled into my gut.

Have another he said with a chuckle.
That's enough Pa, my aunt interrupted.
That's enough!

Marie A. Mennuto-Rovello


Once in Bangladesh, I was served a jackfruit.
They can grow up to one hundred pounds,
which just doesn't say "fruit" to me.
It was served both sweet and savory.
An ice-creamish dessert, and meaty bites in a curry.
This giant yellow object in the market
confuses me. Fruit. Not fruit. Sweet. Savory.
When I returned home, I searched in my own market,
but no jackfruit. No cooking smells sweet or savory.
Only this black parking lot and the plastic tumbleweeds
floating through my unscented city .

Lianna Wright


Because of you
I no longer eat anything RED
Bleached, then marinated
Things I can not swallow
The suicide of your king
The dumping of pink dye
Into local waters

Once you were the cherry on top
Of my everything
Cupcakes at Grandma’s house
Sundaes at Kimball’s
Fingers in the jar from Aunt Gertie’s frig

The stains don’t come out
It’s harder to swallow
Anything but the truth
If RED is what you want
Draw a heart
And color it in

Patty Joslyn


My mother owned maraschinos –
the heartache of them. Her sad wisdom –
no, not even that – just a loss that outlived
youth and friends. The chum sitting
next to her at the soda fountain counter
over ice cream sundaes, who said “oh look!”
pointing out the window as my mother –
eight years old? – was about to
pluck the maraschino, last vestige
in the crystal boat on which had sailed
her sundae. She’d been taught to “leave
the best for last.” She looked out the window
and who-was-once-her-friend snatched
the cherry and popped it into her perfidious
mouth. Bitter-sweet lesson with no
sure moral, the kind that clings like life,
the fruit slipping away.

Taylor Graham


When Adam and Eve ascended into heaven,
they were hoping to eat apples without fear.
We shouldn't blame them.
They had no role models. No parents to instruct.
An those apples seemed so sweet.
Though I have read that the word "apple"
once referred to all fruit other than berries.
No apples in the Bible.
But those Renaissance painters
mixed in some Greek mythology
and those golden apples became knowledge,
immortality, temptation, the fall of man, and sin.
That's really too much to ask of any fruit.
Or of any naked man and his naked female companion
who were already confused about whether she,
coming from his rib, was his sister or daughter, or wife.
In heaven, they order a plate of sliced apples.
They looked delicious.
Both of them stared at them for a very long time.

Ken Ronkowitz


Maraschino cherries hold secrets in their souls,
hiding from the shadows, basking in the gold
of sun that shines so brightly and won’t let them grow old
their taste a sweet surprise to those who can unfold
their hot and sultry mystery that’s tangy to the tongue
with long-forgotten flavor that keeps forever young.

R. Bremner


The (Korean) restaurant had great carved wood door
And a menu it said was fit for an emperor.
I must have been feeling flush
And with my wife, and another couple
We ordered from the imperial menu,
After a foodie daughter of a friend
Who acted as the hostess, suggested everything;
The Kimchi with the taste of road side apples,
Oysters with pin cushions of boney shell
And main course of water logged string beans
And an almost black brown rice.
The meat, perhaps dog or donkey
But we joked and laughed at our table
About how royally we had been gulled.
With mystery meat, as if still in college.
It reminded one of the Yiddish joke
About the fly in the soup doing a back stroke
Or the food was lousy, and the portions small

The desert was to be regal
Yet it was a variation of ambrosia
Orange Jello from a corporate cook book
Icebergs of poorly shaved ice age ice
Covered by Libbey's Hearts delight
A sugary sauced fruit cocktail,
Assorted bites and pieces of fruit,
Nondescript except for a pink-dyed cube
Or what must have been pear, to fool us
And be happy about having a cherry.

When older one thinks
This cherry was not worth
An honor killing
It was only a cherry
To be repaired by Elmer's easy glue
By a mercenary doctor.

The prompts about a cherry
Asks "Who still has it?"
Or one responds romantically
Why, what, who, when, where
Was is lost.

Edward N. Halperin