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Loaded – Karen Paul Holmes

The crepe myrtles are loaded:

That’s what Father would’ve said.

           Only he’d be describing

           cherry trees,

when their near-breaking boughs

begged pickers for relief.


Every July on our vacation

he craved the sweet, dark fruit

from his Old Country childhood.

            He’d stop at roadside stands

then spit the pits out the car window.

We called him Daddy Cherryseed,

figuring he’d planted half the orchards

in Grand Traverse County.


Sometimes, he’d cut the engine,

glide in neutral

down those Northern Michigan hills,

thrilling us: flatlanders who believed

the Buick was driving itself.

            Four flip-flopped kids

            squirmed in the backseat

            and one scrunched between parents,

we sought a cottage on Great Lake sand.

Couldn’t wait to inflate the inner tube.

            Dad sang with heavy accent,

Everywhere we go, there’s a sign on the road:

“No Vacancy.”


Those trees in The Cherry Capital

more red than green,

like the crepe myrtles here in Atlanta,

more flower than leaf.

            Yes, they’re loaded: drunk

on their own deep pink,

blazoning summer along roads and driveways.

In all their glory, Mother would’ve said,

their heavy arms bowing down.

Previously published in Holmes's book No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018).


Karen Paul Holmes has two poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). Her poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer's Almanac and Tracy K. Smith’s The Slowdown. Publications include Diode, Valparaiso Review, Lascaux Review, and Prairie Schooner. To support fellow writers, she founded and hosts the Side Door Poets in Atlanta.

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