Manchineel

I wouldn’t call the green
a poison green—
it’s several shades removed
from Mr. Yuck, and over that’s
a less-than-shiny sheen; the way
unpolished mangoes often look.
I waved away
the warning signs—
the clutched snakeskin
around a lower branch,
the fact that not one fallen apple
had been touched
by birds who should’ve called
the fruit their snack.

The taste surprised;
no bite like you’d expect
from Day-Glo colored treats.
Instead a spurt
of liquid that had ripened
to collect flavors surrounding it
—sunbeams, the surf—
and turn them into crème
brulée. My breath and lips
soon burned. I knew I’d savor death.

Charles Baudelaire: The Albatross

Often, to entertain themselves, the crew would find
Some albatrosses, seabirds known for grace and force,
Those indolent companions who follow behind
The vessel gliding on its bitter, endless course.

As soon as they’re abruptly dumped onto the planks,
These rulers of the blue, awkward and insecure,
Allow their vast white wings to piteously flank
Their sides and drag along the deck like useless oars.

Look at the winged explorer, so aberrant, weak!
Him, recently so handsome, who’s now an ugly wimp!
One sailor puts his pipe up to the creature’s beak;
Another mimes a flying cripple with a limp.