Farm Poem #25

Then the trees are bursting with crab apples,
Hard and red and reticent as their namesake,
Thousands for the picking, if one enjoys eating
Sour rocks. The hardscrabble fruits of our

Ancestors: Wild persimmon, rhubarb,
Damson plum—tart until boiled, stirred,
Sweetened, canned, conjured comestible
With the alchemy of sugar, trophic and treasured.

Still, today, here’s a tree awash in fruit and,
To be sure, nothing will happen, nothing
More than noticing, that is, such outrageous
Abundance, sequestered from the subsoil.

No nostalgia, the pantries of my childhood! Golden
Rims gleaming, ruby jams, carmine jellies; now,
The same fruit, round and reliable as Jupiter, is left
Hanging in the southeast sky; so bright, so unavailable.

Farm Poem #24

My grandmother,
A nurse by training,
Attended my pneumonia-
Stricken grandfather
In the Winchester, Virginia
Hospital, waiting
Until he was able to
Sit upright without coughing
Before marrying him.

She was also a nudist,
A fact which—
Like for most of us—
Probably titillated
Then soon became routine
To my no-nonsense
Grandfather, up to his elbows 
In tractor grease,
Split knuckles,

The dust of the day
Nursed away
By the clothed
Equally well as the naked.
But I suspect that,
Being a farmer,
He was already privy to
That liberating insight
That razes most walls:

It wasn’t about him.
The same couldn’t be said,
However, for his four
Spinster sisters;
The marriage
Not only came with
A farm, fresh air,
And all the sunshine
In eastern West Virginia,

It also came with a live-in
Elizabeth,
A Louisa,
A Welford
And an Anne,
Each of whom
Had passed decades
T&A-free for
23.9 hours a day,

And were now
Suddenly greeted
By my grandmother’s
Naked bum, bent
At the oven,
Boobs swinging,
As she set about baking
Cakes each afternoon.
Let’s face it,

It would challenge anyone.
And while my great aunts
Grumbled and griped,
My pragmatic grandfather
Set about being proactive,
Annexing the sunny
East lawn and
Building a shotgun
Kitchen where,

Through one thin wall,
Leb, Louisa, Annie and Waddy
Cooked daily feasts of
Fried chicken,
Spoon bread,
Stewed tomatoes,
Spanish Cream,
While my grandmother,
Twelve inches away,

Crafted pound cakes,
Haloed beauties,
Almost angel food, just,
I’m sure she imagined,
As God intended—
And just
I’m sure my aunts imagined,
As God intended,
Also.

Farm Poem #22

The last day of spring,
Setting posts beneath
A molten solstice sun,

And stripped to the waist,
By noon I’m scorched
Pink as the dawn,

Thinking of those recently
Concluded commencement
Speeches everywhere,

The ones preaching sunscreen
And worrying about
Not worrying about

What comes next—
And I can’t help but wonder,
Why we rarely hear about

What came before, what continues:
Plunged through radiance
Into a world of sunburnt professors,

Delivered on a sunbeam,
Each morning, noon, evening,
Commencement.

Farm Poem #21

The low hanging cherries are soon gone,
Eaten on the spot, seeds spit
Everywhere. But looking up, there are

Ten thousand more just out of reach,
A constellation of fruit
Sweetening the sapphire sky.

But. My tallest ladder only goes halfway!
But. There are so many!
One cherry, one cherry, one cherry,

Until the colander—quite spacious—is filled.
And, sighing at the baubled branches
Beyond reach, descending the ladder,

What else, but to discover
An overlooked, solitary cherry,
Only inches from my nose?