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Water and Feed

For Canisius

Your day’s a narrow dooryard path
Out through the weary slant
Of outhouses, woodsheds and barns –
All paint-flacked with their boards
Flayed by sunlight, brown as leather.

Past dusty corners – you count coils
Of chicken wire, souls in waiting,
Denuded of body, rusting
Carefully, held in tension,
Awaiting final capture.

You climb the hill, its pump
Pondering water’s depth –
All its sweetness at hand
In your chewed knuckles,
The bloody cud of fieldwork.

(As fence and post command,
You drag the sweat and doubt
Of God behind a tractor.
By the acre you ask Him;
By the bushel He replies.)

You stop to note how weather
Burns away to autumn,
Giving evening early marks –
And you out there in time
For glory time: The first leaves.

Beneath your feet you feel
A flood, cavernous and sleepy,
Hint at coming hibernations.
On the swayed horizon, grain
Commits to a deeper soil.

The liturgy of your hours
Ends with the strong scent of piss
And sour hay. In diagonals
Of dust-cobbed light, the cowshed
Grins with capacious maw.

And knee-locked, livestock
Stand their ground with eyes purled
Like rock candy, eager for
The tinny slap and sloughy ring
To once more bless their empty troughs.


  1. Jonathan Webb says:

    Thanks JOB.

  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OPL says:

    It was only on second reading that I realized this is in second person. What a good choice.

  3. Even without the scent of piss I’d have recognised smelly September.

  4. Thanks all, for reading.

    Churchill: Ah, but the sour hay is part of the package too, down ‘ere on the farm!


    • Jenny in WI says:

      September in WI indeed! I just wish the fertilizing farmer just end the twilight shit-slinging, derriere/dairy-air!

  5. What is this “autumn” of which you speak?

    • While Texas celebrates all times of the year (winter, of course, only by live videofeed broadcast on jumbotrons erected at 10 mile intervals up and down I-35 which show a dairy pasture outside Lone Rock, Wis. live and in realtime from Dec. 22 to March 21) the shortest of the so-called seasons is autumn. This runt of the litter makes an appearance on Nov. 23 (sometimes Dec. 10) at exactly 3:26 in the morning, and lasts five minutes.

      Most people are sleeping, obviously, when it occurs, but occur it does – and it leaves most pecan trees with only a third of their leaves and most residents in the DFW metroplex unchanged by the experience.


  6. Jonathan Potter says:

    Nice one. The last two lines are perfect. And (predictably?) I love the acre/bushel bit.

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