By Joseph S. Pete

As the air turned crisp, the desiccated leaves blazed with color,

as they all flocked like Canadian geese to the orchard,

the couple hoped to stroll down pristine rows of verdant trees
all saddled with sagging boughs heavy with fresh fruit.

They had envisioned bucolic grids of Instagrammable trees
where they could pluck off the ripest, lushest apples,

where they could have their pick of endless varietals:
the obscure, heirloom non-supermarket stuff like Jonagold,

Snowsweet, Cortland, Grimes Golden, Ruby Jon, Jubilee Fuji,
Honeycrisp, Idared, Rome, Ben Davis, and so on and so forth.

But everyone else within a 100-mile radius had the same idea.
The muddy grass parking lot looked like a monster truck rally.

That fine October day, they trod through mud, loitered in lines,

and shouldered through throngs as bruised and broken-skin apples

moldered on the ground, as the stench of rotting fruit prevailed,
tree lines got stripped clean, and cash registers superheated in a seasonal frenzy.

Joseph S. Pete has two first names, three if you count his middle name.

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