“Apple-Cold,” “Not Understanding,” and “If”


It is that first cold

that brings the apples,

the apple-cold,

the cold that moves the white moon

further, further up the tree,

the cold where the still, clear sky

lifts and stretches out

as if waking and making itself ready

for when the apples

and the moon

and the warm sun are gone,

for when the apples and moon and love are gone.

That cold, that first cold,

I take it like a hard fruit,

refreshing still,

its warning:

crisp, crackling

with a tang and sing of sour combining with the sweet,

that appleness, that apple-cold.

"More clothes, then,"

the apples are reminding:

"No bare feet, even on the carpets.

No tee-shirts."

More, it is saying, for when the trees have been shaken clear

and the real cold, the big mature, father-cold reaches down

and finding no apples left,

stretches out to us

to pluck and eat away

the ripeness where we sit,

more clothes or not.

It is that first cold, loaded with apples,

the gusts and hardness of it,

the taste and bits of it in between my teeth,

it is that first cold that pronounces 'leaving' with apples as its alphabet,

its consonants,

with the point that it is making:

'come the apples, comes the leaving'.

It is that first cold

that says, "Up, up and out, out you go,

out, out you go;

the stems,

the stems are breaking."

Not Understanding

What is a match

without sulfur?

What is fire

without the stink of it?

What is passion without the burning?

What is burning without






What is life in darkness

without sight or sense of yearning,

without sulfur, where nothing ignites and nothing is burning?

Should the lightening never strike?

The forests overwhelm?

The stillness spread its own bell-less din,

till even words,

any of them,

seem too much like a match carelessly struck?

What is a heart

without blood that rises in heat

to the bump and the beat of a sudden face

lit on an oil slick street?

What is blood

without bleeding

without staining that same heart lit street?

What is love

without the stink of it?

What is not understanding

but the fear of it?


If you had told me ....

the spring passed,

and the trumpets of rhododendrons sipped the soil beneath their feet.

The wall of summer's heat was built and fell.

Autumn bled,

a slaughterhouse,

its doors thrown open to the wind and iridescent flies.

Winter skinned the sky,

white and hard as marble.

Clocks shattered at the midnight of it all.

But oh, if you had told me ....

the child cried,

drank whiskey,

pulled all the girls' hair in all his dreams,

fell down hairless, himself,

crying and died,

the bullet of desire deep in his heart.

But oh, if ....

If only .... If ....

The mushroom of civilization grew and spread,

as mushrooms do,

was picked and found poisonous,

but did not disappear,

as mushrooms do.

Instead, yes instead, its irruptions stretched out

and preached its ways above all ways,

and men listened as they continued to eat.

But oh, if you had spoken then,

if only then ....

The conception had its seasons,

its hope but not its fruit,

and the heart of it fell down,

desire burning sharp inside.

What is it died that moment, then,

when you didn't speak?

The sea may sweep the ocean bed,

the wind clear the air,

but words are men's only hands,

their only feet.

Why, then, ...?

Why did you never speak?

Why did


never speak?

About the Author

Erich von Hungen

Erich von Hungen is a writer from San Francisco, California. Currently he is involved with his YouTube poetry channel called PoetryForce. For a collection of short stories, he was the runner-up for The Joseph Henry Jackson Award. His writing has appeared in The Colorado Quarterly, Cathexis Northwest Press and The Esthetic Apostle.