“Augustine’s Pears”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Nov. 22 2011 7:23 AM

“Augustine’s Pears”

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Chard deNiord read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

For the sake of a laugh, a little sport, I was glad to do harm
and anxious to do another, and without thought of profit
for myself or retaliation for injuries received! And all because
we are ashamed to hold back when others say “Come on! Let’s do it!”

                                                                             —Augustine’s Confessions

 

“O taste and see!” I called to the others, for it
was foul and I loved it:
The mere idea of stealing
them—the mauve safou—from my neighbor’s tree,
a sweet desire my mind’s dark tongue
was first to savor again and again before
my other tongue, so pink and dumb. But this
was before I suffered grace which has no fruit
and scrubs the soul of any interest in fallen
things, except for these confessions that lie
exposed like grilled oblations for famished angels.
So I shook the branches from top to bottom and tasted
a few that weren’t as sweet as I thought they’d be
but hung like plunder enticing me in women’s
voices to snap them off and stuff my pockets,
then slip away undetected to sweeten
the swill for the swine back home who roam
their sty like former men with terrible hunger.

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.


TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. Now There’s Just One Thing Holding Us Back.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Jurisprudence
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?