Summer, 2016 / No. 37

Raspberries are symbolic of remorse,

which may account for their appearance

in every dessert made in the nineties.

Raspberries are the backwards jeans of fruit,

the Crystal Pepsi of the vine. Seedy,

sour, or whatever stands in for sad,

middle class sads, the “clowning” of the lips,

the “castles of red” the mother calling

“Taylor Emerson Langley MacDree!

You get home right now!” Pouty raspberries

all the time, steering into pop fodder,

all the while it was becoming clear

I didn’t “make it” and for reasons that

had nothing do with the way people chew

bay leaves and instinctively exclude

crude, fat men. It didn’t help that I lied.

Didn’t help that Gerard Manley Hopkins

tweeted “I hope that David McGimpsey

doesn’t publish more. I mean, we get it!

Jesus!” What helped was bowls of cereal,

and General Mills cereal mascot

Franken Berry. Every morning, I’d wake

and seek to help the world by reminding it

that Franken Berry was afraid of cats,

Franken Berry was afraid of parrots,

and, mostly, Franken Berry was afraid

of talking shoes. The kind of talking shoes

which never mourned alienated friends

and did not feel remorse. The shoes would say

remorse was a thing for hard prisoners

or a Civil War general who led

young men into a heavily defended

forest. Remorse was for Plaxico Burress,

the Super Bowl hero who shot himself

in the leg at the LQ nightclub,

on Lexington, as his pistol slipped down

his pants. Raspberries would shoot themselves

if they were given the chance,

even if they won the summer Super Bowl.

They always taste like summer, in a way,

and summer always tastes of fading away,

of the slight depth in a chill that asks you

“Are corduroys coming back in fashion?”

Autumn comes in cuffs and tasseled loafers

and a hope some exam ends with an A.

What is the best way to get through a test

and to endure the sting of Hopkins’ lies?

Plaxico Burress I think said it best:

“Hi, haters! I’m having wings and disco fries!”

David McGimpsey has written six collections of poetry, most recently Asbestos Heights, which won the A. M. Klein Prize. He is the Montreal fiction editor of the on-line journal Joyland. Last updated summer, 2016.