Friday, 2 October 2020



by Annie Stenzel

The neighbor’s sign is unequivocal: don’t even think
about these apples on my tree.
But he can’t stop me.

          I stare at those globes and let my thoughts
          water, my mouth go wild.

          Was an apple my first fruit? Who can say.
          No one is left to quiz on the subject.

Another neighbor says: we’ve lived here
close to 30 years. He will not share. Don’t even ask.

           Nowadays, I need to slice a nice Northern Spy
           into neat pieces before I take a bite.

           At the market, fruit after fruit after fruit.
           But only apples are the apple of my eye.

The neighbor’s sign reads, please! I am the man
who planted this old tree. All of its fruit belongs to me.

           Or maybe not. His house is catty-corner from my door. I keep
           to my side of the street; can’t read the sign from here

           And yet I peer across the way, see how the apples dangle
           full-ripe and all aglow on autumn afternoons

           or spectral, illuminated by October’s moon.

* * * * *

Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing, 2017). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Willawaw Journal with stops at Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, {isacoustic*}, Pine Hills Review, Poets Reading the News, The Lake, and U n l o s t, among others. She lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, visit


  1. "The neighbor’s sign reads, please! I am the man
    who planted this old tree. All of its fruit belongs to me." = our country. Powerful poem, Annie.

    1. ooh ... I thank you for these words (which I just discovered when I was copying the link for this poem to send to an old friend.) It often feels to me as though my poems float out into the world and disappear like clouds; seeing your comment reminds me: there are people reading out there!🙏🏼 Much appreciate your taking the time to comment.

  2. Replies
    1. ha! very true ... It's October again, and when I glance across at the tree that prompted the poem, I do wonder how many of the apples simply fall and decay.