by Joan Jobe Smith

The winter of Yolo County Fair’s 1989
First Prize for Apple Pies showed me
how to keep my pie flute golden while
it baked by simply making an aluminum
foil collar for the pie pan like you might
for the TIn Man’s whiplashed neck.
While she showed me how to weave
a lattice top for my cherry pie she
told me her apple pie won because of
the Gravensteins, those large, yellow
red-striped apples she drove 40 miles
to Sebastopol to buy that are only ripe
two weeks in July, the same time her
husband’s parents came from Pittsburgh
to discuss her bad marriage getting worse.
While her husband and his parents
drank Wild Turkey in the living room
in her kitchen she rolled our the pie crust
dough made of lard and butter for a nutty
flavor and then she arranged inside the pie
the Gravenstein slices, apple halfmoons
halfmoons, a perfect swirl ad infinitum so that
when the apples baked down in their juice
the top crust would not go hard and fill
with stale air and many bourbon highballs
later, after her husband’d told His Side of
the story, his parents came to the decision
that their son’s obligations to his baby and wife
should not interfere with his personal happiness
or life and the last place her husband took her
before he went away was to the Yolo County
Fair and when she saw her First Place blue
ribbon, she covered her face to hide her tears,
asked him to leave her alone with her pie for
awhile so he carried their baby away to see
the clown. The main reason, though, she told me
she won was simply because those Gravenstein
apples are the perfect sweet-tartness for pies.
You don’t have to add lemon or cinnamon
or sugar or any other spice. That way
all you taste are the apples.


A happy birthday and a huge slab of apple pie à la mode to Joan Jobe Smith, author of the recent Silver Birch Press release Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art, His Women (& me), available at Joan shares her January 25th birthday with writing legends Virginia Woolf, Robert Burns, and W. Somerset Maugham. 


“How You Taste the Apples” by Joan Jobe Smith won the 1996 Mary Scheirman Award for poetry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of PEARL and Bukowski    Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. In November 2012, Silver Birch Press published her literary profile entitled Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me). In 2013, World Parade Books will release her memoir Tales of an Ancient Go-Go Girl. Her literary magazine PEARL will release its 50th edition in 2013—find out more at