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    drawings of fern and plums

    Poems: Damascus Plumbed, Fiddlesticks

    By Peter Branson

    July 13, 2015

    Damascus Plumbed

    The damson plum: prunus domestica

    In quiet hedgerows, down aimless village lanes,
    clingstones, their origin, till now, in doubt,
    post-rationing neglected on the bough,
    hang down in droves, to drop, like severed heads,
    decay. Giant sloes, their genes unbound, ink flicks
    from hapless pens, blunt arrowheads, egg-shaped
    lead weights, these flawless jewels against the green,
    slate blue to deepest indigo, tear drupes,
    hint of the orient, sweet damascene.
    Though flawless raw – in Syria, one dry
    sour note round here’s pure gall. First fuse of firm
    lime flesh, cheeks wither in surprise. Appalled,
    what makes great jam bad med’cine unconfined,
    we swallow, blink through tearful, childish eyes.


    A colored drawing of common bracken, or 'pteridium.'

    Common bracken, or pteridium



    Pteridium: common bracken

    Downsbanks, the Outlanes, near Stone, Staffs

    Good uses once, bad press the enemy
    these days: relentless mobster, triffid from
    some darker world, a ticking toxic bomb;
    giant smotherer, hair-trigger fiddlehead,
    sea horse, palms microdots by sleight-of-hand,
    lust-primed, on lacy fronds; full-cocking, fires
    live dust; now toasted, humming, texture, taste
    and smell, green shoots quick underground, makes rust.
    We charge, ‘The True-Born Englishman’ our text,
    resist your flaxen horde, outlandish waves
    of ’kern and gallowglass, invasive tides
    of migrants, infidels, with garden canes,
    then heroes, glorious in retreat, course home
    on armored steeds, peckish, sun-flushed, replete.

    Images courtesy of

    A drawing of the damson plum, or "prunus domestica." Damson plum, or prunus domestica
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