Tag Archives: Farm

CHILDREN HAVE

CHILDREN HAVE

Children have a great sense of smell

Maybe that’s why
their diapers make them cry

their first
breast sends them
on a lifelong quest
and a cinnamon bun
can stop us all in the mall

On a farm there’s hay
before it goes into the cow
and hay when it comes out

The pungency of pig, the foul of fowl

Rain before the first drop falls
and the whip of lightning after it cracks

Smoke on dad’s clothes from the prairie fire
snuff from the round box cutting his shirt

The dog, even wet, not diminished in love

If lost in a blizzard, or in the dark
it is always best to let go of the reins
so the horse’s nose can point you home

Lost in the world at four a.m.
twice blessed if yours can do the same

HOME MADE ICE CREAM

HOME MADE ICE CREAM

When I was five we lived on a ranch
still forty miles and forty years
away from electric power

We only got to eat ice cream
when hail lay deep enough on the ground
to be scooped in the old hand mixer

Many a hot evening in August and July
five of us sat on those hard ranch steps
looking out at the Western sky

Watching the black clouds and the grey
building and rolling our way

Silently praying our protestant hail Marys
four for and Dad against

SHEETS TO THE WIND

SHEETS TO THE WIND

Reminded by Marymae the other day

of Monday’s wash in Tuesday’s wind
and bending sheets to bring them in

It was just enough starch
and thirty degrees below in March

And about how fingers got cold as hell
but I think it was really about the smell

Yes that was the part she wanted to tell
it was really the freshness of that smell

ODE TO THE FARMER

ODE TO THE FARMER
No one will be surprised by the report
that farming is a very dangerous sport

What flapping empty fingered gloves
point back to momentary lapses

What limbs with what power
have been taken off by
power take offs

What tendons snapped like glass
and bones cut clean as grass
by unthinking mowers

And what of those neighbours dead and true
who for a minute forgetting what they knew
through red machines combined
with their grain

And these have earned his dusty tear
and many a “who’s next” fear

Year after year, after year, after year

And yet deep in the soils of time
the seeds of his goodness are growing
While the world turns in slow seasons
And he will be ready
when at last they declare
a true war on poverty
and are willing to bomb with wheat

GROWING STONES

GROWING STONES

Each spring on our farm
the old father sun turned up his warmth and
charm
melting the frost deep in the heart of the mother
earth

The
egg babies
thereby created
rose to the surface
to play in the open air
mischievous miscreants all
waiting to jam dickers and drills
and if they get a little grain to hide in
ambush swathers, combines, and oil pans of
grain trucks

so we had to gather them into
school bus stone boats and wagons and haul
them off to places where they could be with their
older brothers and sisters on the reform school
rock pile

there is still some hope
that someday they can learn to be pillars of the
community

I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER ON HORSEBACK

I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER ON HORSEBACK

I understand that
she used to ride to school
but she was little and it was a farm
and somehow that didn’t seem to count

When she was about 75 she told me
about going with dad to the far end of the ranch
on a beautiful day a long time ago
to help round up some strays

She said that she liked it a lot
and couldn’t remember why she didn’t do it more

ROUND UP

ROUND UP

It’s about the hardest dustiest best work a man can get

The pride of the heeling rope, thrown snake quick from a
good horse and the slow steady pull, dragging the white face
out where the boys with the hot irons
can record the feat

Three hundred cows sing of calves lost and found, and above
all through it all the full strong laugh of one of the boys,
where a slip was made or a kick well placed

At the end of the day, you wrap a rope sore hand around a
spring cold beer, and lean back against the old pole fence
deep in the pain, and the sweat, and the moment

Completely released from the wheel of desire

There’s no place you’d rather be
There’s no one you’d rather be with
and you’re too damn tired to move anyway

PRAIRIE EAR

PRAIRIE EAR

Outer ear gathering
sounds of birds and wind
and hooves on spring grasses

Playing them soft on the drum
as hammer and anvil and stirrup
pass on the faint creaking leather
of my old Texas boot in the stirrup

Ripples wave down inner membranes
and tiny thousands of hair cells
move like grass in the valley

From pressure to impulse
and from sound to
symbol of
sound

All floating in the liquid balance of an easy lope