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Life, Writing & Photography 
...a Collection of Personal Discoveries
Copyright © by Greg German, 2008

Poetry: The Last Day of Harvest


The Last Day of Harvest

 Seasonal Sections

Summer 1     Harvest      Summer 2
  Winter      Spring



Listening To Grandpa, Again


As we walk a path,

once a road,

leaving tracks between

the puncture vines,

his gaze runs along

a fallen fence, past

where Deacon Hayes or

John Coble is resting,

and cuts across

a field harvested forty

seven times, before

passing through

regrown oaks

and crossing the creek

to find a buckshot

wounded windmill

forever trading rhetoric

with the wind.


           Originally Published in
                Touchstone, 1983, Fall/Winter













Lunch Time, At Walnut Creek Cemetery
                              3 miles South, 3
˝ West, of Glen Elder, KS
                                                             September 6, 1978—7:30 p.m.


We have lunched here for years.  A tradition

chiseled from a landmark of bereavement, 

an occurrence fixed by circumstance

and coincidence that we farm just across

the road.  Today, we are doing it again. 

When mother arrives with the food,

she stops by the gate.  My brother and I park

our tractors, stretch our backs, and slap

the dust from our hands.  Dad and grandpa

join us.  Blankets unfurl like parachutes

and sink into the shade of evergreen trees.

We arrange ourselves onto the ground. 

Then, just before the first bite of sandwich

or drink of iced-tea or lemonade, mother

does the proper thing and invites the dead

to join us.  We discuss her offer and joke

that others might find this odd.  We don’t care;

this place is comfortable, like a storage room

in an out-of-the-way part of the house

where we choose to open a window. 

Fresh air accompanies a music of blue sky,

wind, buffalo grass and weeds —

and a few short rows of tombstones,

shelves lined with preserved points of time. 

After lunch, we walk where the deceased

once walked, where neighbor ushered neighbor,

farmer after farmer, into the ground.  December 23,

1872—baby daughter.  January 16, 1873—son,

(same family).  August 11, 1891—dearest

mother.  May 3, 1884—loving wife.  March 20,

1880—kind father.  September 6, 1878—husband.

Infants, children, parents, grandparents.

Lifetimes weathered into ghosts

of assumption, their deaths a mystery. 

Scarlet fever?  Pneumonia?  Diphtheria? 

Influenza?  Childbirth?  The list lingers

with tragedy.  Unearthed, a mirage

of settlers idle around us—pioneers

consumed by a timeless circulation of crops,

plowed fields, and harvests that flow

around these boundaries.  After awhile,

we all go back to work.  From a distance,

I continue to notice the dead.  Like long lost

friends, they meander and converse comfortably,

existing on our hospitality, happy

for a momentary taste of resurrection






















Fall blew under the porch

late, and it was mid-November

before elm leaves chatting

in the front yard chased

themselves into that place

where only the dog ventured.

In the garden, bony tomato

and cucumber vines posed

limp.  Stiff stems still clung

to apples too mushy to throw.

The flies had vanished.

Cows brought in, turned out

to milo stubs, licked up dry-sweet

stalks and juicy heads missed

by anxious combines.  Each morning

we stretched last year's cramps

from worn coats, and exercised

new gloves on bucket handles;

sows bumped from beds furrowed

in straw.  Spiced, fully cooked

and cooling, the air cured

into winter.

           Originally Published in
               Negative Capability, 1987, V.7, N.3



















Thursday, Nov. 28th      1:07 a.m.


One light is on

above the kitchen sink.

Tomorrow's dinner plates

are clean,

stacked next to a bowl

of white, unpeeled

potatoes.  Pumpkin pies

settle on the stove.

Chairs sit politely

around the table.  Each

individual tick

of the clock

falls off the wall,

out of tune

with the hum

that comes from beneath

the refrigerator.

Everyone else is asleep.

I cut a piece of pie.

Then another.


           Originally Published in
                Cottonwood, 1986, N.40











A Brave Farmer Goes To The Bank

                  ~ farmer -- /'farm r/n  1:  a person

                    who pays a fixed sum for some privilege

                    or source of income  2:  a person who  cultivates land

                    or crops or raises livestock  3:  YOKEL, Bumpkin ---

                                           Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary 

He parks right out front

where his neighbor's mud

has hardened

onto the asphalt,

and walks

straight to the bank's thick glass

door.  The door is placed

to reflect everyone's image,

and the farmer sees his T-shirt

is untucked.  The door is easy

to open.  It shouldn't matter.

The banker is his friend,

and behind a plowshare-styled smile

that can't break crust,

he welcomes the farmer

with interest.  They both fake it.

A mystic, the banker pulls

his pile of paper, from somewhere,

and begins to read the future.

The farmer is afraid,

and imagines himself swallowed

by the chair that holds him.

He is paying for his life

with his life.  He leaves

the building with the mystic's fee

printed on pink, and feels the stiffness

of the concrete

move into his knees,

proving that he is not ageless.


                      Originally Published in
                           Kansas Quarterly, 1993, V.24, N.4

                            Americas Review, 1999, N.10




















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A Determined Farmer And His Family

Load The Last Heifer  


Tail-twisting to the far side

of the pasture the last heifer

never looks back.

The loading chute empties.

The farmer's son claims

no fault, spins his Yamaha

ready for a 2-wheeled rodeo.

His mother, her hair half-tangled

with patience, her boots

lathered with shit, shouts

toward the heifer, gives her men

a ripped-shirt speech

of compassion

because it's part of her

job.  The farmer swears,

and because he is not a cowboy

rides his horse however he can,

CO-OP cap on backwards.

Together, the farmer

and his son chase the beast

along a mile of fence,

uphill, down

hill, across a pond dam,

places no cow has ever

been before.

Aware of space, the farmer's son

twists the throttle

deep through his hand.  Aware

of what's between

his legs

the farmer holds on

for his life.  The horse,

bored with the luggage

on its back, enjoys it all

because he has sense,

does everything

but shut the gate

to a second-wind kink

in a cow's tail that spins

the last heifer back

to the further side of its world.


                      Originally Published in
                           Kansas Quarterly, 1993, V.24, N.4






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The Purging Of A Gobbler


He'd been Old Tom, forever,

squat and fat,

a gloating, strutting ball

of self-conceit

that dared a brighter world

to cross a path

he'd paved with constant garbled gab

and flap, a collage of nothing

spewing from his throat,

his feathers falling, tattered,

from a cushion growing old,

fluff spread across the yard.

A scrooge that found us throwing slang,

and rocks and cans

in his direction,

to only have him turn

and chase us, bounding

through the grass

balloon style on a breeze

intent upon attack.


Not to say, but one day

someone slapped him upside the head,

grabbed his legs, drug him off,

hung him by his feet

from a limb to twist and twirl.

A dangling gunny sack of lard

finally silent with surprise.

Again, someone grabbed

his long and greying beard,

yanked, stretched his neck

and played a tune of taps

across his throat

with a rusty blade pocketknife.

And in a final burst of glory

his blood soaked us all,

marble agates never blinking

as the mindless mind

hit the ground.


                      Originally Published in
                          Touchstone, 1983, Fall/Winter

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