Monday’s Rune: NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 17)

I call my Monday poems runes, which can be ancient Germanic alphabets or stones with such symbols used in fortune telling (mystery or magic). Synonyms for rune include lyric, poem, song, and verse. (

For today, my NaPo challenge was to write a poem that contains the name of a specific variety of edible plant that grows in my area. I was to make a specific comparison (or contrast) between some aspect of the plant’s lifespan and my own. I was also to include at least one repeating phrase.

Byline: By Bill Reynolds as prompted by Maureen Thorson at NaPoWriMo dot net.
Dateline: Everywhere in Texas, but mostly from near Austin, 
perhaps anywhere in the Americas, April 17, 2023.
Copyright and published: 2013, by Our Literary Journey, 
NaPo #17, Monday edition, Rune section.

Cautious Culinary

An eerie red afterglow surrounded us as we drove between the hellish throbbing of wildfire embers from the hearts of burned prickly pear cactus.
I don’t know why.

Ubiquitous, often unseen until it stings, Opuntia of family Cactaceae, also called tuna, sabra, nopal and more,
a bushy edible succulent, often decorative, shrub.

Light green or bluish thorny fleshy pads sprout Spring’s purple-red fruit for jam, jelly, or syrup.
Unharvested fruit become beautiful cactus flowers.
I don’t know why.

They are decorations for xeriscape, desert, Mediterranean, and cactus gardens.

When spiny glochids are removed, pads or fruit are nutritious but best harvested in morning as taste changes during each passing day.
I get it.
I also change as hours of each day pass and like the pear, I taste better in the morning.

The fruit emerges in Spring and soon flowers, more growth and long lived but old age produces less desirable taste.
I get that too.

I can be oh so prickly, no more fruit or flowers, but inside, except for arteries and added parts, I am soft and moist, maybe a little salty for some.
Don’t know why that is either.

I cannot nail down my life span but this year is “expectancy”, nor if the pear outside my door will be there after I’m gone. They live a long time but eventually
everything must die.

I don’t know why, it’s one of those things.
For life to be, there must be death, food chains, health, fire, and sickness
when an eerie red is glowing all around us.
And like me, prickly cactus can be too much.

Look both ways.
The cactus you do not see will stick you good.
Mind the gaps, wear good boots, and watch for snakes.


*Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).


Prickly Pear cactus after they flower in Spring.


Edible pads and fruit.