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


 
Poetry: The Last Day of Harvest
 

Spring


The Last Day of Harvest
 

 Seasonal Sections

Summer 1     Harvest      Summer 2
Fall  
  Winter      Spring

 

 

Traveling With The River    

 

Knowing winter's clear water

will soon be dulled by summer,

the two of us wade

just a ways down

from the old Brock Bridge.

Advance scouts, we're alert

for yesterday's ware.

Abandoned bottles, hubcaps,

and other good junk

wait between last night's coon

tracks melting in the silt

and today's sun patting

the river's cool bottom.  Friendly,

the current nudges us farther

than we have been before.

We forget and let April's path

splash above our knees, ignoring

dense mud and scavenging sand

that sucks at and into

our worn canvas shoes.

We stop at Holler's Bend,

listen---and hearing only

ourselves, imagine

the sound of trees

stretching and buds splitting.

It's late.  Our mothers

will worry.  But we

decide we are men

and are never going home, again.

 

                 Originally Published in
                         WIND, 1987, V.17, N.61

 


 

 

 

 

 

House In The Middle Of A Field

 

I know of no one who has lived

here.  And it has been here forever,

a pivot we cramp machinery around

behind a full-throttled tractor.

The house could have been a corner post

so tight set it made no difference

how taut or in what direction a wire

stretched.  The foundation has settled.

Wind has chiseled the excitement

out of the wood, and the sun has left it

grey.  Its shingles are receding.

There are no curtains.  The front door

is gone, so it must be open.  Inside

I mingle with the musty scents eroding

from the crisp millers and mummified mice

hidden behind the layered, pastel paper

wilting from the walls.  Children

drift through bedroom doors playing

with antique toys.  Screened

by a common farmer face, a man sits

on his kitchen chair.  He stares

beyond a woman in a cotton dress

into clouds that might not

be rain.  I have done my duty.

And mine are the last boots

to arouse the dusty lull spread

across this cold wood floor.

On the windward side of the house

dad announces there is no better time

than now.  I stand back.  He lights

a match.  Flames lean from windows,

tattered flags at full mast.

                       Originally Published in
                           Kansas Quarterly, 1987, V.19, N.1

 

 

Bareback On The Palomino

 

While rebound sounds

ricochet away from wings

at the bottom

corner

of a nighthawk's dive,

the horses wait.

Then, hoof bantering

from the top of the hill

to the fence, knowing

I have brought their oats,

their thrill stirs the scent

of grazed pasture grass

with the strolling fragrance

of wandered cattle.

Wind-cooled fresh, it mixes

with their own lathered odor

creating a homey smell

not found in any kitchen.

I catch the spirited one,

and while evening clouds

merge red in the west,

roll onto his back.

We melt into our own wind.

 

                       Originally Published in
                           Paws & Tales, 1998, V.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Pickin’

 

Peepers.  Chickens.  Fryers. 

Corn fed.  Grasshopper

seasoned.  Fat.  Heavy.

Thick.  Drumsticks. 

Eyes, pea-black, round

with fright.  Wings. 

Buzz-bombs.  Flap

flightless.  Strained.

Neck stretched.  Pulled

across a flat-topped stump.

Hack-scarred wood.

Hard-stop.  Meat-split.

Hatchet.  Whack.  Severed

head.  Squawkless yellow

beak.  Throat.  Hooked

to nothing.  Brainless feet.

Blind run.  Stagger. 

Stumble.  Relax.

Fluffed pillows.  Drained

body.  Boiled water

dipped.  Drenched odor. 

Foul.  Feathers.  Feathers. 

Feathers.  Wilt.  Wet-limp. 

Soggy.  Hands sticky

till the last one's picked.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Visit To My First Home

No road comes here anymore.

But it's a good walk,

and on my way across the field

I throw clods at imaginary targets

still standing from before.

My eyes play along the creek,

and I remember things

I am told I can't:

chickens crowding the coop,

marbles in the sidewalk,

the time the dog and I

snuck off to grandpa's old place.

Burr oaks and elms, muscle bound

limbs scaled with leaves

brush the ground with shade.

Crippled, the iron gate

sags, its fence gone.  Iris hoist

their colors proud for surviving

the steel that kept us both

in the yard.  The branch

my tire-swing callused

while I walked on air

is tangled in the grass.

I kick dried brush

from my bedroom, and push

through the kitchen.  It's warm

standing where the porch

should be, and I wonder

if everyday is Sunday morning,

here, where no road comes

and no road leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sow 32 In Stall #9

 

Ten fresh pigs, their tails

pumping with pleasure, bubble

along her milk filled tappers.

But something deep inside her

is stuck.  Too long

since her last delivery

she is tangled in contraction,

too weak to push.  The wave

breaks, and drains away.

I am ready for this

to be over.  At three in the morning

I roll up my sleeve

and let her oven heat

wrap around my arm.  My hand

soaks through the dark.  Elbow

deep I find the fourth brother,

and by his gumdrop-slick hoof, pull

the last pig home.

 

                 Originally Published in
                         Poet Lore, 1986, V.81, N.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Abandoned Hay Rake

 

Unhitched, old

as rust, an iron

skeleton, just off

the edge, peering

through weeds.

Its steel wheels

rooted in dirt,

bearings dry,

iron ribs hungry.

This field’s relic

holding its breath

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Farmer's Son, Age 27, Sits On The Edge Of His Bed or, A Reoccurring Nightmare After Moving To The City  

                                                    A Symptom Of Post-Farm Depression

 

 

The farrowing house is dirty,

shit deep, everywhere.

Hog feeders empty; pigs

in wrong pens, others

dead.  Calves wander lost

on the road.  The yard light

is dim, the grass too tall.

It is neither night nor day.

He gets on a tractor

and tries to finish disking

the field west of the house. 

His dog roams about him,

its tail flag-proud.  Whiffs

of dust mushroom

from its callused  paws. 

 

The farmer's son wakes up

and knows he is somewhere

else.  It is a clear night.

But, there are no stars.

Cars move back and forth

near his front porch. 
Next door, glare

from a forgotten porch light

stabs the dark.  A dog barks
for its life.  Trapped
behind fences, only its echo
runs down the street. 

 

Startled, the farmer's son stares

at nothing.  Recognizing himself,
he sits up and moves

to get both feet on the floor. 
 

The front door is locked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Psychic Farmer Sees His Every New Year, or

Once Upon A Time In The Twilight Zone

 

It occurs on a Tuesday. 

By coincidence, June.  Hours

after he has climbed aboard

his tractor, turned the key,

throttle up, and spiraled

his way through a window

of boredom.  Given the view,

the farmer stares at the future

and sees that everything

behind him is ahead of him: 

Weeds wilt.  Others grow. 

The color of harvest blends

 

across wheat fields like sunrise. 

Men sweat.  Women hurry.

Combines labor.  Stubble fields

are tilled.   Hot winds blow.

Drought threatens or occurs. 

Thunderstorms, angry behemoths,

grumble.  Mad fists of lightening

strike.  Dog days lounge around, fat.

Hay is cut, baled, and stacked.

Markets fluctuate.  Soybeans,

sorghum, and corn grow,

flourish or not, then molt

 

to crisp brown.  Fall harvest

comes and goes like a last

dance.  The air cools.

Seed-wheat is meticulously

groomed into soil.  Cold

spills,  geese migrate

south across Kansas.  Leaves,

brittle with age, give up

and fall from trees. 

Pregnant cows indulge

in split bales of alfalfa.

Piglets nudge and bump milk                     

 

from sows' swelled nipples.

Tomato vines are pulled.

Last pumpkins rot.                                 

It snows.  The pond freezes.

Night lasts longer than day.

Calves appear.  Chores

acquire the redundant habits

of monotony.  A kaleidoscope

of yellow, baby chicks collage

beneath heat-lamps.  Rabbits

annoy the dog.   Green wheat fields

thicken.  Machinery is greased.

 

The sun flexes.  Weeds

emerge.  The cream-smooth

scent  of over-turned soil

melts into lungs.  Markets

fluctuate.  Spring crops

are planted.   It rains.  Seeds

sprout.  Cattle are returned

to pasture.  Cats have kittens. 

Chickens are butchered.

Warm winds ripple up

from Texas.  Wheat matures. 

The farmer drives south, turns

 

 

west at the five-mile-corner,

crosses Walnut Creek Bridge,

and travels the last stretch

to his field.  He parks his truck,

climbs aboard his tractor, turns

the key, throttles up, and spirals

his way through a window

of boredom.  Given the view,

the farmer stares at the past.

Dust lingers.  It is June.
Like always, this day is this.

             Originally Published in
                 Flint Hills Review, 2006, N.11

 

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