Peppercorns & Prunes by John C. Mannone

Imagine the soft sweet flesh of plums
air dried and concentrated to thick dark
ambrosia, studded with peppercorns, but
        be not deceived by this hard piquant spice
        from Mesopotamia. Don’t you know that
        this is symbolism for the human condition
or a culinary euphemism for figs, succulent,
even dried—its honeycenter seduced
by toasted almonds the shape of snake
        eyes? Adam & Eve would’ve much preferred
        to avoid them altogether; simply drink the fruit
        of the vine, with a couple of peppercorns
crushed between their teeth—a subtle
reminder to complement a full-bodied red:
earth tones, supple fruit forward, lingering
        taste of leather and smoke on the palate
        to smooth out the tannins after a hard day
        tilling the dry ground. Pungent sweetness
helping them forget the wooden pick & hoe,
splintered palms and the ubiquitous brambles
that scraped their pruny knees.

John C. Mannone has work in Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Peacock Journal, Baltimore Review and Pedestal. He’s recipient of the 2017 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian literature and two Weymouth writing residencies. He has three poetry collections: Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing), nominated for the 2017 Elgin Book Award; Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press) featured at the 2016 Southern Festival of Books; and Flux Lines (Celtic Cat Publishing). A Pushcart and Rhysling award nominee, he edits poetry for Abyss & Apex. He’s a professor of physics living near Knoxville, TN.

Nonfiction                                                                            Issue Nineteen                                                                            Next