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Blackberry-Picking (after Seamus Heaney)

Blackberry-Picking (after Seamus Heaney)

A Poem by R.E. Ray

Blackberry-Picking

after Seamus Heaney

 

After is seldom as good as before,

Except the second time you have sex,

The second two-fingers of whiskey,

The last cigarette.

 

Do you remember where Seamus went

Blackberry picking,

How we sought and found the same,

Minus the rat-grey fungus?

 

I trekked back there today,

Alone, and picked a canful (no green ones).

I tasted a handful, too ripe to eat.

They stained my fingers and tongue.

 

When I came home, coincidentally,

I discovered among the stems and pricks

This bee hummingbird in my back pocket,

The same moment I read your note

 

About losing your smile button. He

(the smallest bird on the planet)

got me back to that spot, knee-high weeds,

briars up to my eyebrows and ears.

 

Six feet down our hill, dotted with dew

I found it in the rotting leaves and dirt,

Two half-closed eyes and dull yellow,

A fractured edge curving upright.

 

I said I’d never return to this place after

You and I had picked it plumb-clean,

But I have these memories from before

And your eyes, your sunshine smile,

 

Polished, in my front pocket, like I do after

I see you and think of us kissing each other’s lips

Violet, and sharing the very last cigarette.

And, now I don’t want to wash this old jacket.

 

© 2020 R.E. Ray


Author's Note

R.E. Ray
"After" is used to give credit to the poet for the title and references within the poem. This is one of the acceptable means of citation.

Image taken from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/226305949998801967/.


My Review

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Featured Review

Damn...this is an absolutely amazing write. This has a feel to it, slightly off kilter and hugely nostalgic. I wrote a piece called Trinity Can You Hear Me that has a similar cinematography to it. This feels like Sling Blade meets My Girl. I makes my inside crawl a bit but also makes me wigs for days like this. Wonderful, full, writing. Great Job!!!!

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

R.E. Ray

1 Week Ago

Thank you, sir. High praise and such unique comparisons. Great to see you here.



Reviews

What a great take on the theme, Robert. The Heaney poem is another one of my favorites. He had a great way of catching a moment in time and freezing the past. Even in a poem that highlights transience. I can’t pick blackberries now without thinking of the poem and knowing the delicacy and short life once the berry is picked.

What I like about your poem is you seem to say the opposite. Where you say the spot was picked clean and you wouldn’t return, you do return and find fruit still. Perhaps fruit of a different kind, but it is fruit that soothes the mind in a way.

I like the way the poem mixes a sense of the past and the present. There is something in that—the two constantly clashing and it largely depends on us how those two worlds or times shake out together in our heads. There is a sense of pain and negativity here, but also a positive pull that cannot be undermined no matter how much the speaker would like to do that. The bee hummingbird seems to be the symbolic seed of memory that can make even the painful things seem beautiful again. Trickery of the mind. This is a very human poem. Great work.

Posted 4 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

R.E. Ray

4 Days Ago

Eilis, of all poems I've recently written, this is the one I'd hoped you review. So, thanks very mu.. read more
I get the feel of these lines being about adolescent romance. Especially the bit about not wanting to wash that jacket. I can remember doing that myself. I wore a boyfriend's scarf until it almost dropped apart. Really sharp imagery here of blackberry picking. Have done it myself and the stains on fingers take ages to completely go. This is a really nice nod to Seamus Heaney. Descriptive writing and filled with nostalgia. One of my favourites of yours. Quite a remarkable write.

Chris

Posted 5 Days Ago


Again, off-the-charts imagination! This is such compelling storytelling & every line was a deep breath of rarefied air. There isn't one word or idea or image that is anything like anything I've ever read before. This is so original, I'm mind-blown & insanely jealous of all that amazing detail that pours forth from your noggin! (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

R.E. Ray

6 Days Ago

Seamus is one of my favorite poets. I love the original poem, and very much enjoyed inserting my ow.. read more
damn, now that's what love is all about. this hits right in the guts and tugs at the old heart strings. i used to love to pick berries as a kid (a lot more undeveloped land back then with stuff growing wild) - those are some of my warmest memories and doing it with a lover puts a lump in one's throat. wonderful, emotionally charged write and accompanying pic. will leave it at that before tears start rolling r.e. ... :)

Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

R.E. Ray

6 Days Ago

Thank you for the review, Pete. Good to read you had a personal connection with this one. Happy 4t.. read more
Tough-guy sentimental.
Your words are eloquent; your style, countrified elegant.
Reminds me of a guy who heads for the wild with both shotgun and fishing pole, only to sit
on a big rock brook-side reading classical literature.
Enjoyed the smart references!


Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

R.E. Ray

6 Days Ago

Thanks, Jimmy. That guy would be me. I no longer hunt but love the woods and farm ponds. I never .. read more
This is a most worthy sequel for a worthy poet and poem, Robert. I hear your words say that some loves, like blackberries, lose their sweetness too soon. Beautiful analogy, imagery, pace- so authentic and poignant. all of your references are superb. The lost Violet and her lost smile button -indelible. "After is seldom as good as before"- truth. Wonderful write, my friend.

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

R.E. Ray

1 Week Ago

Annette, it's good to see you in the Cafe. I'd say you read this one exceptionally well. Thanks so.. read more
your blackberry picking goes a step beyond.
we simply pick the berries and later eat them
But strongly relate to the hummers and the old jacket that I will wear until it disintegrates
Another quality write

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

R.E. Ray

1 Week Ago

Thank you, Dave. Seamus is one of my favorite poets, and this is one of his best from the last book.. read more
great poem, R.E. inspired by a great poet, you have captured that sense of nostalgia well, like the way you weaved the original poem in with your own creating that sense of memory , gone , to never be what it once was in the mind that sense of something lost but the memory lives on , great poem, after all,

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

R.E. Ray

1 Week Ago

Thank you, Gram. Knowing I'll never reach the heights of Seamus, I wanted to capture that loss of i.. read more
This poem evokes memories in me...memories of old friends and places. There is a sense of loss in the poem, a feeling of regret. There is also a feeling of returning- when we return to a place that was familiar to us or that had meaning to us in the past but now it is empty. That is a strange feeling- like returning to your old high school. Great poem.

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

R.E. Ray

1 Week Ago

Thanks very much. Accurate interpretation for sure. I appreciate your time and kind words.
Those feelings once
felt before resurface
with the sweet
thoughts
.

The after glow still holds
a passion that cannot
be forgotten in
sweet memories held
dear...permatley stained
In violet upon the heart








Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This comment has been deleted by the poster.
R.E. Ray

1 Week Ago

I admire poets who can write a poem as a review. :)
  Fran Marie

1 Week Ago

I hadn't realized
I had written
a poem ..but
now that I
look at .it.... read more

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Added on June 28, 2020
Last Updated on June 28, 2020
Tags: Seamus Heaney, Blackberry-Picking, life, love, lost innocence, sex, lust, romance, nature, maturing, life lessons, memories, poem, poetry, free verse, freestyle, RERay


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