a modified English Alexandrine

An ancient apple tree in my unkempt backyard
Has skin pocked like the moon by savage nature’s wrath.
The top is bare and broke, curled like a parched mesquite
Contorted in hot sand.

Some lower limbs are green. These few remember still
How coiling teenaged roots went questing, drinking deep.
Swayed easy in the storms, and limber, shed the snows.
Tomorrow had no cares.

Untouched, enduring still. The few lush limbs oppose
Death creeping from above. They birth a crop of fruit:
Green scandal, tart with life. Defiance ‘til the end.
A lesson, might it be?



Mickey Kulp is a writer and father whose creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous consumer magazines, newspapers, literary journals, and three books of poetry.  He is a member of the Gwinnett County Writers Guild and founding member of the Snellville Writers Group. In 2018, he created a quarterly reading series to benefit the local food co-op. He lives with his wife and a dozen larcenous squirrels in Atlanta, GA.  

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2 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    It’s nice to see alexandrines being composed once more. They were frequently used in the late nineteenth century, but they demand a skill that is largely absent today.

    My only suggestion is about the choriambic bob-lines that end each quatrain.

    The first two “Contorted in hot sand” and “Tomorrow had no cares” work fine. But the last has a small stress problem. “A lesson, might it be?” is very awkward for a choriamb (/ x x /), since the stress naturally fall on the word “it,” which is unnatural. I’d suggest this minor shift:

    A lesson it might be.” (x / x x / x)

    In this way the stress falls on “might”, and the unnecessary sentimental question at the end can be omitted.


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