Tomato picking and other poems

Tomato picking

Grape tomatoes, these swollen berries like summer ornaments, dangle from tethered vine. Their ripeness judged by how delicately they hold their stem. With fingers wrapped like cupping a firefly, it should come loose. Pull too hard and it won't be ready. Less ripe, forced. Wait too long and it's plucked by the breeze. To decay into the dirt, skin pierced by jay beaks. It's about the rightness of the moment, gentle hands, and catching when it gives.


Water sputters from the spout of the watering can onto the spongy peat-like soil of your amaryllis that my mom gave you. The bulb of which sat boxed, and in cardboard darkness it sprouted pale leaves yellow like pus. I potted and planted it. Watering it still. Pouring into what has grown big fronded,

yet in all these weeks no bud has shown. Amaryllis, named for the woman who pierced her heart each night outside her love’s front door. That she walked away after bleeding her heart says much to her desire. I’m pouring into your plant like I poured myself into our kisses. Amaryllis gave a drop of blood night after night. I’m watering twice

a week. When my mom visits us, she marvels at the size. No flower yet? No. But you’re doing a great job, she says to you, and you don’t correct her. The soil darkens with the wet. Sitting in the south facing window, the sun dries it out, but the leaf tops are pasted to the glass taking in warmth. Our second-floor apartment and unadorned sill

gives the plant, yet to flower, a long day of shine. Saint Teresa was pierced similarly. Through the heart, I mean.

By god, I suppose. Rather than Amary and me being self- inflicted. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is often depicted her

eyes closed, mouth agape, in orgasmic serenity, with arrow over her, poised in cherubim hand. Presumably the moment

before head and shaft are plunged into her chest. Perhaps her pleasure was before she was struck. Wherein she differs again, from Amary and me. Our drenching the dirt over time to coax out this bud, to spill into spreading the sanguinolent petals, is giving life into life, an equivalent exchange, for Amaryllis bled herself dead leaving a flower on her love’s doorstep. A flower

that I haven’t yet gotten close to bloom even though my watering can is running out of what I have to give.

What Seán about these poems - Each of these poems, while differing in content, address similar themes of alienation, separation, and belonging. These themes, to me, are necessary as our growing digital connectivity and global awareness creates a longing and loneliness. Such feelings are captured in these works, and my writing in general, as I find I'm not so substantially in one box or another. As my surname might suggest, I'm a creature of dichotomies. This informs my writing as I use high and low language to connect the different cultures within myself such as the blue collar, literary, genderfluid, and queer cultures which are all vying for voice within the work, and I believe through my use of language, I’m accomplishing this. My approach to poetry can be described as Romantic poetic sensibilities in the style of the Confessional poets, while approaching the Nihilistic absurdity of our age.

Seán Griffin received an MFA in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College. Seán's writing has appeared in The Southampton Review, Impossible Archetype, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Offbeat, and elsewhere. Seán teaches writing at Concordia College of New York, is an editor for Inkwell Literary Journal, and lives in New York with three amazing dogs. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter!