This Is Your Only Warning, Selling Points, and Coreopsis

Charles Rafferty


This Is Your Only Warning


The peach is more forbidden. It can moisten your mouth just by thinking of it, and there is always a chance of flies. An apple, on the other hand, has never stained a cambric shirt. Even the core is edible, despite the small poisons hidden in the seeds. The peach has skin like ours, and can chip your teeth if you aren’t careful. It has the heft of a planet pulled down from the sky, summoning the kiss you can’t refuse.


Selling Points


I’m sure the neighbors want this corner cleared away, but the goldenrod is full of bees and the wind is plucking at a crown of thistle. It should come as no surprise that I’m rooting for mayhem, the ability of things that live here, to live here. On the edge of my lawn, at least, it doesn’t take long for the cardinals to disappear. True, with all these trees, the gutters clog twice a year. But inside of the garage I’ve left you a ladder to keep the cool rain moving.




It’s a perennial so it keeps coming back like nervous breakdowns and Presidents’ Day sales. Its seeds are the color of dirt, and I’d never have guessed they’d keep this side of the house so yellow, even when the weather is dry. It has not been dry. For weeks, we’ve alternated between downpour and drizzly overcast. I’ve been staying on the couch, watching the news and failing to finish every novel that I start – confident of nothing but these little flames the rains seem only to fan.


Charles Rafferty has a new collection of prose poems forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2021— A Cluster of Noisy Planets. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and The Southern Review. His latest story collection is Somebody Who Knows Somebody (Gold Wake). His novel, Moscodelphia, is forthcoming from Woodhall Press. Currently, he co-directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College and teaches at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.