A Journal of poetry and kindred prose

Cati Porter

has had poems published in kaleidowhirl, Mannequin Envy, Pomona Valley Review, Poetry Midwest, and Poetry Southeast and in a number of anthologies including White Ink: Poems on Mothers and Motherhood (Demeter Press).  She is the editor of Poemeleon, associate contributing editor for Babel, and an occasional book reviewer.

These poems are from her chapbook small fruit songs, forthcoming from Pudding House.


—Back to Orsorum Contents—

Civil Fruit Revenue derived from property by virtue of an obligation.

Her heart is on loan to the boy down the street who claims to be studying
its imperfections. He’s paying her a nickel a day to hang on to it, but
whenever she sneaks a look through his window she sees he is not
examining it, he is looking back out the window at her and he looks so sad
she can't bear to ask for it back.

It’s raining again. She sees he is now outside with his friends and her poor
heart is beating in his room.

The sky says it is not about emptiness but about how blue appears.

Every week the boy pays her the thirty-five cents which she is saving in an
old shoe.

Once meant for walking, she fears that when full she will forget what it
means to want to leave.


Fructify c.1325, from O.Fr. fructifier, from L.L. fructificare "bear fruit,"
from L. fructus) + root of facere "make"

She is large with grief and her belly is full of bees that sting from the
inside out. Her hair streams behind her like a faucet of warm running
honey has become her head. It has formed a creek where the children
scoop handfuls to their mouths, and the ants carry them off. Her hands
make a basket for flowers that grow out of the creases where dirt has
collected. She would like to scream but her mouth has become a
honeycomb, her teeth and tongue coated in golden duress.


Dreaming the Fruited Damson Tree A good dream if one is so fortunate as to see these trees lifting their branches loaded with rich purple fruit, but to dream of eating them at any time forebodes grief.—dream dictionary

Someone once said that the tree in her yard bore a resemblance to a man.
And so she stood and looked at the tree until it did, each limb arcing just
so as if to embrace her. And when the birds stood in winter on the bare
branches they looked so like children and she grew to adore him. In the
spring when nests sprouted eggs and fingered flowers dotted his boughs,
she dared ask: will you marry me? The wind administered their vows.

Across the season his petals fell like small shirts clothing the loam.

As the globes swelled day after day she sat beneath and read to them.

When they grew large enough she named them, and as each ripened she
gently picked them, and ate them.

They were sweet.


False Fruit

She was once full with a red glowing that made her look as though she
were edible, and she was. Someone once said they would want her if she
lay in sugar, and so she did. And once she offered herself to a boy who
said he preferred red, but he said no, he couldn't bear to – believing that
what he was saying was in her best interest, but not in his. And there's the
rub: nothing stays as it once was. And so many years later the boy went
back to ask if she would allow him to reconsider. And so she did, but the
red was gone, replaced by a kind of ruddy purple. And so upon seeing her
again he declined, returning home alone, leaving her again alone.


Fructus Industriales The fruits or produce of the earth which are obtained by the industry of man.

The man plants each foot with tender care, scoops of compost blurring the
boundary between his toes and the earth. He buries himself up to the
knees. In time he sprouts roots that distance themselves from him in
search of sweeter water. His head becomes a knot, his torso bends to reach
the light, and his arms extend. His biceps unfurl, flower, and fruit.

One day another man arrives and says: This is my land.

With a saw he removes first the man’s arms, and then his head.