Farm Poem #8

Spring is never as we remember it:
Too soon, too hot, too dry, too cold —
Forgetting that the earth wobbles,
What sort of spring do we seek?

The one we’re convinced we recall
Twenty years ago when
The smell of fresh cut grass
Daydreamed itself through the parted window

And into pre-Algebra,
Two fifteen in the afternoon;
Then, when the arrival of spring meant
One day beneath the cold flat stone

The salamanders weren’t there,
But the next, beautifully, they were.

Farm Poem #7

The four year old, I am told,
Has been playing Farmer Forrest—
And Farmer Forrest is always in trouble.
Look! The cow is in the road.
Look! The pig is in the pasture.
Plastic figurines are hastily assembled,
The Fisher Price Farm Patrol scrambled
To the henhouse,
The meadow,
The roof of the barn, where,
Look!
In search of a perch,
The goat is on the weathervane,
In desperate need of assistants.

For non-toy farmers there are other troubles,
Matters of money & failure &
Family & temperament &
Chemistry & finance &
Relationships & interest &
Depression & false optimism &
Globalization & neighbors &
Pricing & health insurance &
Fair wages & injury &
Legal fees & climate change &
Mechanization & maintenance &
Doubt,
All before dawn,
All before the weather forecast,

Or coffee, or waking,
Or sleep for that matter.
Still, a plastic figurine,
With a plastic straw hat,
Painted-on overalls,
Is plunked on a pinkie
And conjured to life
With troubles of its own.
Problems are problems, after all.
Many miles away,
At the caffeine shop in town,
The mother asks her daughter,
“What does the cow say?”
“Moo!”

“Good! And what does the hen say?”
“Cluck!”
“Yes! And what does the piggy say?”
“Oink, oink, oink!”
So energetic; so willing!
Yet this list will run on,
Run out, before anyone will ever ask,
“What does the farmer say?”
Because none of us know;
None of us knows to ask—
Discarded on the floor,
Surrounded by enormous chickens,
Diminutive cattle,
A flock of proportionate lambs at scale,

Farmer Forrest’s expression is laser-etched,
A black line bemused,
Something intended as a smile.
What does the farmer say?
Something intended as a smile.
Then, look!
Trouble.

Farm Poem #6

So certain, this world
Filled with experts:
Instant analysis
When no one knows for sure why we sleep!

In the pasture,
Parted by tire gouges,
The soil sets about repairing itself,
Twin sutures healing while no one looks.

So sure! Doctors and lawyers and such–
Yet from the stone stable I see the boy,
Dead one hundred fifty years,
Watching for Confederate soldiers.

The sea washes over the sea;
The wind starts where?
No Icarus, these birds,
Who survey their winging breadth of sky.

Farm Poem #5

Old dead apple tree

“It’s sad,” he said gravely, gesturing. “What will you do?”
“You mean the apple trees?” I replied. “They’re dead.”
He nodded. “But still.” He shook his head. “You should do something.”
“Like, perform mouth-to-twig resuscitation?”
He ignored this. “Do you plan to replant them? The fields just look…
I don’t know. So vacant.”

And the cattleman in me wants to ask this
Economist if he plans to help;
For if he doesn’t know the first thing about apples
Then don’t know the second,
No more than the serpent understood gravity,
Or Newton original sin.

“But still,” he repeats, his eyes far away,
“It’s sad. Just letting them die like that.”
And beyond the tangle of black limbs and
Bracken, creeper snaking through poison ivy,
Rose hips thorning hackberry bark,
Bloated branches of fire smut,

Trunks cankered and split, punked hollow,
My eyes fly far, too,
Past all resemblance of what it meant
–economically, ecologically, energetically–
To keep this old orchard orcharding,
And I see his blue sky, bold, unmarred,

Where silver dream-liners soar
Turbulence-free to tropical destinations,
Cocktails served at thirty five thousand feet,
Views unimpeded.
I see people, and more people.
I see their foreground,

And I see their distance,
And I am not afraid.

Farm Poem #4

 

On a farm there’s no spring break,
Instead, a spring bend:
Mountain twigs ice-tipped melting
Into rivulets,
Into rivers.

Richard Feynman said
Fire is sequestered sunlight
Released. Stretching,
These story arcs
Are seasonless.

Where does winter go?
Into stones and bones
Deep beneath the earth.
To the other side!
Where everyone wants to go

Until we don’t;
Until frozen, we thaw.