Poetry Friday: A look back at a Highlights workshop poem, “The Apple Tree”

As you probably know, the publication of my new picture book, A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human (Beaming Books, 2022), has been taking up all my time and attention the past few weeks – and now that it is officially available everywhere and my next book doesn’t come out for two more months (YES!! See below!), I thought I’d catch my breath and share a poem I originally posted way back when it was first written, in Oct. 2013.

True, I’ve written many poems while attending the Highlights Foundation workshops; you can read a poem about a stone wall HERE, some light verse HERE, or even a love poem HERE.

Such beauty and youth…

In this particular case, I was enjoying my very first Highlights Foundation workshop hosted by David L. Harrison and was relishing the opportunity to live, eat, breathe, and sleep poetry!

I was inspired to write many things during that week; one of them was this poem, written about an old tree I saw, situated alone in a field on the Highlights’ grounds in Boyds Mills, PA.


“The Apple Tree”

One autumn day while walking
alone in an unfamilar area I spied –
crouched like an old man
with a strong crutch
and weak heart –
an apple tree
standing in solitude amidst the sawgrass,
and a few errant wildflowers,
so full of precious fruit
I surmised it must be
in wont of a visitor
with whom to share
its treasures.

Desirous of the beauty
I beheld, I journeyed
through green-amber weeds
high to my waist, urgent
soft steps growing
quicker, quicker
and more deliberate. How could ancient limbs
such as these carry the reward
that awaited me?

The tree beckoned, each coy leaf lifted
to expose
sweet bounty beneath.
Soon, I saw boughs heavy
as the Milky Way, bearing
stars upon stars
that outnumbered
and outshone the very leaves
that held them
in the sky.

Faster and faster I trod, consumed
by a fervent lust
for sustenance;
such succulence I’d never seen!
Closer, closer, I came,
heart and eyes wide and longing
breaths away…

I stopped.

Under shade of canopy,
only now could I see clearly
blessed fruit blushed
with blight.

Mold-speckled faces frowned
through borers’ brown holes
while wind-wrinkled skin hung
criss-crossed with blemishes
of age and neglect.
I stared for only a moment
then sat close to its trunk,
where low-hanging corpses
mocked my desire.

I would not leave this spot,
for I knew my hunger
was insatiable, and my thirst
unquenched. Here my craving
had begun, here it remained;
here I would remain
yearning, never satisfied,
but content
with what could have been.

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

…yet, upon closer inspection…


My friend Heidi Mordhorst is hosting Poetry Friday this week at My Juicy Little Universe, where she is celebrating Folktale Week with a video of the prologue to the musical Into the Woods – which is poetic and musical and just plain fun!

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(And OH, YES, dear readers, I have another picture book coming out the first week of January – and will be hosting the official COVER REVEAL here next week! I can’t wait for you to see it and learn more about it! If you love animals, numbers, and multicultural food, BE HERE NEXT FRIDAY!)

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Thrilled to be a First Round panelist for the Poetry Category!

I’m also booking author visits for the 2022-23 school year!

Click the graphic for more details!

I love chatting with elementary and middle school classes about writing: why poetry is fun to read and write, the importance of revision, and how one’s imagination and creativity can lead to a fantastic career!

I tailor my presentations to fit the needs of the classroom. One day I might be sharing details of how a picture book like Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017) was created; the next, I’ll be discussing dinosaurs, tree ferns, or origami sea turtles!

Student presentations include:

  • The Making of a Picture Book
  • How a Child Saved a Book
  • “Once Upon Another Time”
  • The Most Imporant Thing about Writing Poetry
  • “I Am Today”

Adult presentations include:

  • The Making of a Picture Book
  • Poetry: An Introduction to the Most Important Genre
  • The Most Important Thing about Writing Poetry
  • Free Yourself with Free Verse
  • Tight Language, Loose Narratives: Crafting a Non-Traditional Picture Book

Learn more at my website!

If you or someone you know might be interested in having me visit your school, library, or other organization, please email me
at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com!



(Beaming Books, 2022)

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of this or or ANY of my books
from my local independent bookstore!


Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!


I’m very happy to be part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!


I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.


Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click here to view all my books and to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


Thank you to everyone for your support!




Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

20 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: A look back at a Highlights workshop poem, “The Apple Tree”

  1. Your poem had me running to that apple tree with you, Matt! Love all the emotions in your words. I’m heading to Highlights next week for a personal retreat with my critique group. Such a wonderful place for inspiration!


  2. heidimordhorst

    Matt, that poem is fascinating–not just as an apple tree poem (etc) but as a glimpse of the voice that was yours a decade ago. I’d be so curious to hear how it strikes your ear now that you’ve tuned and retuned your poems to younger readers, to nontraditional picture books, etc. I’m currently working with a lot of older poems (one I wrote in COLLEGE almost 40 years ago!) and trying to notice what’s changed and how much control I have over my authentic voice. Thanks for sharing this one.


    1. Thank you, Heidi! It’s interesting how a poem can be changed over the years to better suit one’s ears. For example, this is not the original version of the poem; it went through mutliple revisions before I first posted it here years ago, then it was revised a few years later, then revised just a few days ago before I published this.

      Were I just beginning to write it now, it would likely read differently, but I’m fairly happy with it as-is, nonetheless. I got into children’s writing through poetry – adult-oriented poetry that had been published in literary journals and anthologies – so writing for an older audience isn’t necessarily new for me, but it’s most certainly ever-evolving.


  3. lindabaie

    I remember that time with you, Matt, seems like an eternity ago now. So much has happened through the years. I love that you’ve kept the tree close, even revised as you have changed. I’m looking forward to your new book! Happy Friday!


  4. Matt, your Apple Tree poem was remeniscent of the romantic poetry of Keats and Wordsworth. Rich description and lush alliterative elements. It was ode like in its formation. Finding new joy in our older words is so often gratifying, and though these words were new to me, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in that space where you found your words.


    1. Thank you, Alan, I appreciate that. I often share this poem and another ‘apple’ poem, “Apple-stealing,” with older students in order to show them why rhyming, metrical verse is not the only kind of poetry out there – and that one can have a lot of fun with wordplay once rhythm and rhyme are no longer on one’s radar!


  5. I think your poem reads like an adventurous Ode to ye old apple tree, and wonderfully builds until… alas hunger will have to wait. Wonderful poem Matt, and many congrats on your new book coming in January!!!


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