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!


    • 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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