I’ve done my duty by pears this year,
shaking them from the tree as autumn neared,
remembering they can rot before half-ripe,
climbing after even the small hard type–

That was back when August shone its sun
(the apples still bit back when tasting one)
when rhubarb prime in June still limply stalked
and our own loosing limbs seem to be caulked
with warmth; the pears were only browning at the core
and only some–but now, no more
than two weeks later, the bags still left
sweat heavily with decay, heft
hollowing–fruit flies flitting in the fridge–

So, set to work, trying to save the ridge
of pear all day–that flesh between the peel
and ploded center, to unseel
the whites of pears’ eyes, forget
the dark brown cornea that sometimes stretched
across the fruits’ both hips–

until, at last, I try for any sauce–I’ll sieve it
later–tossing in the rot and sheath and seed–
just seeing what will work–no longer trying to weed
out more than stem, hard navel, leaf–

And the smell, cooking, wafts itself so sweet–
the peels, curled like mute tangled clothes
abandoned on a visit from their beaus,
seem to smile, cheshire-catting the sides
of the deep pot, as I blow my wide
hot spoon, tasting then the essence
of pear–not the excresence
of pear–though maybe they’re the same–
what is, what was–still called by single name–

and I think again–all day, I’ve been thinking–
about loss, reading Thom Gunn, sinking
as I read, into a numbness–all those beautiful
young men, who finally said screw dutiful
(except to self and friends) infected in the blood
to carry hard beneath the hood
that new despair.  I mourn
as I salute–their cheekbones born
again in wasting skin,
their frames becoming tents to house them in,
as what was wit and spark and human want,
what had determined to be insistent,
was cut down, taped, tubed, gone–
as pairs, as legion–
how can it feel so very long ago–
eyes still in the photos darkly glow–

And I don’t know what any of this
has to do with rot or pears or sauce
or numbness, only that the mind moves
back and forth through what it loves
which is so much over a life,
much even in the barest slice–
trying somehow to couple reason, rhyme,
with what’s been lost, is lost, in time.


This is very much a draft/first draft/ but can’t come up with more somehow–so sorry for the length and thanks to you who made it through. 

I am writing in response to Grace’s prompt (her last one) on Real Toads about Thom Gunn.  Some of Gunn’s very effective work arose from the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s.  I found such poems particularly moving.   Thanks so much to Grace for her series of prompts based on wonderful worldwide poets.  

The photo above is mine–all rights reserved (as, of course, with the poem). 




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21 Comments on “Unpared”

  1. the last ember eye Says:

    In no way does this feel like a draft. This is perfection.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. Well, thanks very much. I was not able to come up with edits much but I spent the whole day before writing this not being able to write anything that I wanted, so probably a lot of that kvetching was secretly work! (That’s what I tell myself.) Anyway, thanks for your kind comment. k.

  2. Grace Says:

    I read it like a stream of consciousness from picking and cooking those pares, to young men dying of AIDs, with their wasting skin and body frames like tents ~ I like the salute to such lives lost & is lost in time ~

    Your draft poems are a joy to read Karin ~ Thanks for your enthusiasm and participation of my weekend challenges ~ All the best ~

    I am still around, smiles ~

  3. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    I think it’s very Gunn-like in the details, the realism and the tone. Which is one of the highest compliments I could pay any poet.

  4. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I can so relate to the way a mind may wander from one task at hand to what it will give to the future and then, too, a reminder of what has been lost in the past. No one who lived through those first years of the AIDS epidemic can ever forget the fear and hopelessness which spread from country to country. In Africa, the disease has been devastating.
    You poem strikes the exact pensive note the subject demands, without sentiment. A pleasure to read.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you, Kerry. Of course, I’m writing more of US and UK but the impact in Africa has been at such a horrible level. You know it’s not even much of a subject any more in the West– though I’m not sure the medication is really so widespread. So sad. K.

  5. The thought of pears, how quickly they decay, still when summer is.. such a natural connection to the AIDS epidemic.. I recall it, though it felt remote, and dangerous.. to be close would have been so much different.. There is a Swedish film (that I have not seen) that describes the period so well I’ve been told, and it’s title is so telling:

    Don’t ever wipe the tears without gloves..

  6. Pears and death…how quickly death can come while the blush is still forming. Such a heartfelt piece, reflection on the horrible tragedy of AIDS.

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    This is really a very serious poem, k(in the sense of poem as entity, as well as subject matter) –draft or not, and it is well set up from first line to last. Not saying it couldn’t stand a bit of editing-what couldn’t- but very effective as is.Somehow, the analogy of the pears, of their flavor, their ephemeral nature, and what may(or may not) have spoiled them, their bruises and skins, their taste, is reborn so thoroughly in your warm and wistful treatment of the AIDS victims of that time when it meant a long, lingering, painful, inevitable death. A harvest lost, yet also a sweetness that is retained in memory, all the more treasured for the pain of losing it.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I wanted to get it up when I finally could get something written, but I think it is one that will be worth coming back to over time–already I can see cuts–but when I started writing it I wasn’t sure how it would come together so it ended up being rather discursive, especially at the beginning. I cut some of the AIDS stuff even in typing it up and maybe should have focused more on the beginning/middle–but it is rather easy to get soppy about the AIDS things as they are so sad, so it was perhaps easier just not to type those parts.

      That’s one of the things with the rhyme, is that it can make it a bit harder to cut–one is so happy just to have come up with some rhyme that sort of works! (Ha!) But easier to change that after a little time has passed. k.

      On Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 8:07 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  8. Mama Zen Says:

    This is something special, K.

  9. X Says:

    Very effective imagery of their bodies like tents there in the end, quite evocative. Ate my fill of pears off the tree this year, the deer enjoyed them too and the black birds. I dont mind sharing. I got my fill. No sauce though, that would be very nice.

  10. kaykuala h Says:

    Set in a serious mood it shored up that feeling of a noble cause and of wanting to do good. Great write K!


  11. M Says:

    k, you are so expert at drawing an image, letting it sit there on top of our consciousness, then diverting to another image – layering, as it were, the tastes one on top of another – a sprinkle here, a flavor there – and then you tie it all together, you marry the divergent and give us something that is even greater than its elements. ~

  12. First of all…. wow! Second of all…. You mentioned rhubarb! What a pie! But pears are certainly delicious too dear k, especially the way you present them here! Is that AIDS drifting into your pear poem? You are so right sweetie…. Life is not a single-calm day-tree lined-avenue… But rather a spaghetti bowl of torrent tornadoes twisting and jerking us every which way, combining the most divine happiness with the most demonic sadness…. You are certainly right in tune with that k…. This is possibly my favorite poem of yours now… Very, very well done….

  13. I love pear time and your poem, too!! Smart to use a tarp! I should do that this time @! Thank you, K!

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