Farmers Still

Fall 2014

farmers still

at the kitchen table
we cup our hands around coffee mugs
to fight off the chill of fall rains
we talk about late harvest and sprouting swaths
and the whims of marketing boards  money-lenders
and mother nature
we remember past years with bumper crops
and how the north-east quarter always produces
but this year the swaths are under water
and tough as things seem it’s not so bad as Harrisons
after their auction last year they moved to the city
they say they used to lie awake wondering if the old boss cow
made it through the winter   if the brockle-faced heifer
calved on her own
they drive out to check other people’s crops
on land their grandfather homsteaded
stop in at coffee row   talk about the weather
like they were still here
From Maverick Western Verse 1994  Gibbs Smith Publisher

Horses in Snow

They are a gift I have wanted again.

Wanted: One moment in mountains

when winter got so cold

the oil froze before it could burn.

I chopped ferns of hoarfrost from all the windows

and peered up at pines, a wedding cake

by a baker gone mad. Swirls by the thousand

shimmered above me until a cloud

lumbered over a ridge,

bringing the heavier white of more flurries.

I believed, I believed, I believed

it would last, that when you went out

to test the black ice or to dig out a Volkswagon

filled with rich women, you’d return

and we’d sputter like oil,

match after match, warm in the making.

Wisconsin’s flat farmland never approved:

I hid in cornfields far into October,

listening to music that whirled from my thumbprint.

When sunset played havoc with bright leaves of alders,

I never mentioned longing or fear.

I crouched like a good refugee in brown creeks

and forgot why Autumn is harder than Spring.

But snug on the western slope of that mountain

I’d accept every terror, break open seals

to release love’s headwaters to unhurried sunlight.

Weren’t we Big Hearts? Through some trick of silver

we held one another, believing each motion the real one,

ah, lover, why were dark sources bundled up

in our eyes? Each owned an agate,

marbled with anguish, a heart or its echo,

we hardly knew. Lips touching lips,

did that break my horizon

as much as those horses broke my belief?

You drove off and I walked the old road,

scolding the doubles that wanted so much.

The chestnut mare whinnied a cloud into scrub pine.

In a windless corner of a corral,

four horses fit like puzzle pieces.

Their dark eyes and lashes defined by the white.

The colt kicked his hind, loped from the fence.

The mares and a stallion galloped behind,

lifting and leaping, finding each other

in full accord with the earth and their bodies.

No harm ever touched them once they cut loose,

snorting at flurries falling again.

How little our chances for feeling ourselves.

They vanished so quickly—one flick of a tail.

Where do their mountains and moments begin?

I stood a long time in sharpening wind.

By, Roberta Hill Whiteman
Snow Horse


Jan 4th“Again I reply to the triple winds
running chromatic fifths of derision
outside my my window:

Play louder.

You will not succeed. I am
bound more to my sentences
the more you batter at me
to follow you.

And the wind,

as before, fingers perfectly
its derisive music.”

(William Carlos Williams)


The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.

Denise Levertov
Summer 2013 4Smmer 2013 3Summer 2013 2

Where Does The Dance Begin, Where Does It End?

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.

It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.
But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?
April 26 April 25
Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.
When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking
to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,
as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,

in the garden of dust?

Mary Oliver

Spring (Mary Oliver)


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring
down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring
I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue
like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:
how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge
to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else
my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,
it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;
all day I think of her –
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.
~ Mary Oliver ~