Jeff Newberry


          -Lang Newberry (1939-1990)

It looked like a stunted orange tree
in our backyard, the waxy leaves
shining in sunlight, glistening after rain,
tiny fruit the size of a thumb’s fat tip.

My father picked them by the bowl
and ate them at the kitchen table.
Once, I popped one into my mouth,
the bite so sour tears burned my eyes,

the taste so sharp I couldn’t see
how he chewed them with a smile.
My thoughts of him have been
like that: the tart sting that sears

the tongue and blurs my vision,
the fruit I pick although I know
it will sour my mouth. I take a bite
because I want to taste the burn.

Jeff Newberry

is the author, most recently, of Cross Country (WordTech Editions), a collaboration of epistolary verse written with Justin Evans. His newest work appears in Brevity, North American Review, and The Journal of American Poetry.