Category: Farm

HORIZONS AREN’T EQUAL OUT HERE

HORIZONS AREN’T EQUAL OUT HERE

The East is fine
for color on the way to the barn
but by the time the chores are done it’s gone

The rest of the day we watch the West

That’s where the weather comes from

That’s the direction the grandfathers faced
when they got this far and found
what they were looking for
or gave up
unhitched the horses
and sat down to watch the sun set

THE FARM, THE RANCH AND THE SWEEPING SCYTHE

THE FARM, THE RANCH
AND THE SWEEPING SCYTHE

Sunrise can be brilly bright
and all day long
everything out to get you

The horse can kick or fall
the bull has horns of steel

Every machine is grinding its teeth
in wait for a chance to bite

and every snowstorm
eager to find you
too far from the barn
and stiffen you like the manure-pile cat

The sunsets worth surviving for

TECHNOLOGY

TECHNOLOGY

The day breathed in
and the day breathed out

After lunch my father took a nap
– the horses had to rest

By supper time they were fed
fed and brushed and thanked

And then the tractors came
– and tractors do not nap

Not content with that small theft
they soon grew lights and stole the dark

He fed them gas, they pulled the plow

But not once, one to the other
did they ever speak of love

MATH

MATH

If a train leaves Moose Jaw
heading west at the speed of first memory

Engine, cars, and caboose
zebraing by behind a snowfence
smoke billowing back over its shoulder

And another leaves, traveling east
from my writing of it now

When will they meet
at the small town of Courval
and your reading of this page

THE AUSTRIAN UNCLES

THE AUSTRIAN UNCLES

Already old when I was young
revered as I would hope to be when old

Two brothers married to
two sisters of my father’s father

Great aunts
always as they’ve always been
busily bustling round the house

while the uncles somehow stay
both present and out of the way

Little china cups in work-hard hands
black coffee and home-brew
sipping the day away

Sunsets

SUNSETS

Sunsets are long in these latitudes
and filled with color

The color of sunlight refracting
through soil and seed and dreams

picked up by west winds
and held in suspension
along with prayers
for a good harvest

What it might pay off
and what it might pay
a little something
down on

A little rain brings them
back to earth again

CLEANING THE CALF SHED

CLEANING THE CALF SHED

Forty below outside
not much warmer
on the inside

A hundred little Herefords
dropping and stepping
where it freezes
where it drops

The calves are
four feet closer
to the roof
by April

After the thaw
sitting on the steel seat
of the little orange Allis
with the front end loader

Driving in hard
and pulling
out
fast

Manuria
in one nostril
spring
in the other

WORKING WITH FATHER

WORKING WITH FATHER

In the short days of a long winter
we sort nuts, bolts, and washers
against the busy days of summer

Place them in well-marked bins
accompanied always by his mentor’s
Never waste five dollars worth of time
looking for a five cent bolt

The 9/16th fine-threads do not go in
with the regular or coarse

When you’re four
it’s not hard to get up
at four to ride in the cattle
truck to the city with your dad
excitement keeps you awake all night

There are knots you need to know
reef, sheepshank, and the ever
popular bowline that can still
be undone even after looping
a red bull weighing a ton

Hook the twine around your
little finger just son, in a way
that I could never get,
three turns and knot
the gunny sack
in two seconds
flat

Heel that calf, or turn the herd
drive the truck at the perfect speed
to catch the combine
on the fly

There is a great deal of pleasure in
doing something right, when right
is the only way anything should
ever be done

But never far, even yet
from the red-black cloud
of doing it wrong