Figs and Les Figues have started to meld in my thinking about ‘the Southland’ — our fabulous media market of 'Greater Los Angeles'. We've cultivated orange groves, olive trees, pomegranates, avocados, vineyards and figs forever, wanting to be 'Mediterranean'. And more, the Southland has always been sold as a Heaven on earth. A bill of goods, you may say.
In church they teach the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree as a lesson to 'ya about having faith and the need to put out the goods. The tree got cursed for not putting out. My theory is that ministers use the story as a way to chastize their wives.
It's true that figs don’t put out. You can't ship them. They’re not commodifiable. They don’t keep. They'll never be a lollipop flavor. You don't put figs in a rum fool. When fresh, they ooze, then rot, attracting gnats. Figs are strictly hand-to-mouth. You can't pick figs by the handful. To pick them requires deliberation. You cradle the bottom of the fig in your palm, put a finger on the sappy white stem and snap the stem from the branch. Otherwise you blow the top.
Figs do get themselves into jams. They like a chocolate bath. They sit on their netherworlds and deliquesce, wasp traps. Oh fig, thou art sick!
“Conceptual poetry is poetry pregnant with thought.” (Charles Bernstein)
I have a fig tree at my family home. More figs fall than we can eat. They plop on the ground, bottom-heavy, bruised and stoic odalisques posing in a random yet constrained pattern under the leaf canopy. They may be staging a critique of Christianity’s prejudice against figs, fags, & fogs of doubt. Or it may be a visual poem honoring the slow food movement & innovative writing by women. That's how figs put out, here in the Southland.