Conjuring Farmhouses, a poem … and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.” Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture [farming as a cultural and spiritual discipline – recommended]



farmhouses
still alive in memory,
sitting along country roads
wild ~
unpaved

one home-place
with a view of the lake,
a sassy summer promise of trout
and, through the capacious winter,
hoary days of ice fishing,
afternoons of ice skating
with freezing fingers and toes,
nearly as inky blue
as the oncoming dusk

© 2018, Jamie Dedes

Photo credit: Farming near Klingerstown, Pennsylvania courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture. 

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

I’m a city girl but I know that farming is hard work. Honest I do. For years, I was in a mixed marriage with a country boy. He was from a multigenerational farm family. I learned a little of the truth about that business, just how persistent, smart and soulful a farmer has to be. Nonetheless, I seem to want to hold tight to idyllic visions of farm life, ones I imagined as we passed farms on drives through rural areas when I was a child.

I do have strong feelings about farms that are belied by the poem above, which harkens back to those youthful fantasies. I feel, for example, a sense of gratitude to the field hands and farm workers – including migrant workers – who ensure our sustenance. Their work is back-breaking – sometimes spirit-breaking – unremitting, insufficiently rewarded and unhealthy.  Healthy, sustainable farming practices that are safe for these workers, for us, and for the Earth are being fought for the world over.

This week share poem/s out of your own nostalgia, experience, impressions, gratitude, concerns, or convictions about farms, farming, or farm policy.

Share your poem/s on theme in the comments section below or leave a link to it/them.

All poems on theme are published on the following Tuesday. Please do NOT email your poem to me or leave it on Facebook. If you do it’s likely I’ll miss it or not see it in time.

IF this is your first time joining us for The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These are partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.  

Deadline:  Monday, December 17 by 8 p.m. Pacific.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you. This is a discerning non-judgemental place to connect.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


ABOUT

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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”



 The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

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23 Comments on “Conjuring Farmhouses, a poem … and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

  1. Living On The Glebe

    A tithed farm had flourished
    since Queen Victoria’s reign.
    Then the council needed acres
    of land, built a housing estate
    in the 1930’s for families like
    us who couldn’t afford to buy.

    Small, airy houses with an inside
    toilet and coal shed, no running
    hot water but spacious gardens
    front and back.We made our home
    here in the ’50’s and I walked past
    apple trees to my first school.

    Elderly neighbours recalled
    the redbrick farmhouse, told
    how they were sent there
    as children and exchanged
    a few pence for pats of golden
    butter and hay-warmed eggs.

    They felt the land’s closeness
    despite shops and post office
    and bus routes to the city centre.
    Road names were echoes.
    Farmcote Swancote
    Old Farm Glebe Farm

    And during the War,they dug
    over their long back gardens.
    Potatoes and turnips grew again.
    Carrots were shaken free of soil,
    peeled, grated and added to cake
    mix instead of rationed sugar.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. .growing potatoes.

    the robin came down as he cleared the ground,
    all red chest, pretty eyes.

    we discussed the earth, rich now, without
    the stones. we could grow potatoes as they
    did here in the war. i have the photograph.

    these are fortunate times, while have disliked
    the tuber since the flu struck.

    there has been a lot of it this year here.

    we plan a pretty little greenhouse, all white
    with embellishments, red geraniums.

    the robin watched, i am told he will like mealworms.

    sbm.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. .limousines and chevrolets.

    it was quite a while

    then while travelling she noticed

    an interest in cattle.knowing little

    noted their shapes and patterns.

    mentioned the farmers yesterday

    most in rugged vehicles

    dogs barking

    one in a saloon car, the passenger

    kind

    full of food stuff

    for cattle.

    she wondered at the white ones

    on her way home.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A Secret Place

    When Dad barked
    You hopped to it,
    Let’s go! In the car!
    He loved the country.
    One day, he said,
    I’m moving to some
    Small town,
    Somewhere,
    Someday.
    Got my love of trees,
    Wide expanses
    And the smell of grass
    From him
    I guess.
    Let’s go pick strawberries.
    Get some fresh picked apples,
    Some corn, if it’s ready,
    Right from the field.
    He always took the
    Side roads
    On our way to
    Where he wanted
    To be.
    I marvel,
    Now,
    Where he was
    Coming from,
    Some secret desire,
    Some past life,
    Taking him home….

    Liked by 2 people

  5. ALLOTMENT

    Hefting water out of the river to
    feed the newly-planted.Long years since I
    had to do the same on Uncle’s farm:enamel
    white bucket hung from a windlass,sweet
    water drawn from deep. I could lift but half
    a pailful then. Brothers, neighbour’s girls,
    rudimentary washes after endless
    play; earth closet in the yard, potatoes,
    their skins slowly curling in the cauldron
    on the hearth.Somewhere a clock. Bored one day,
    I stood beside the well and bawled for help.
    Dad came running and rough chastisement
    was love’s affirmation.

    Brief check before I
    swooshed down the hay bales in the barn, guiltless
    until the straws in my hair betrayed me.
    The years have added muscle, as I bend
    and dip and lift from the grateful water,
    remembering my boyhood’s guilty smile.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My fourth response:

    Purifying shepherds

    Smoke from burning

    droplets of blood from the tail 
    of last October’s sacrificed horse,
    ashes of the stillborn calves,
    the shells of beans.

    We are sprinkled with water,
    wash our hands
    in spring-water,
    drink milk mixed with must.

    Towards evening after shepherds
    fed their flocks,
    laurel-branches
    are used as brooms
    to clean their stables,
    water sprinkled through them,
    then stables adorned
    with laurel-boughs.

    Shepherds burn sulphur,
    rosemary, fir-wood, and incense,
    usher the smoke through the stables
    and the flocks to purify them.

    cakes, millet, milk,
    and other food
    is offered.

    Hay and straw bonfires lit
    cymbals and flutes play
    as sheep and shepherds
    are run three times
    through the fire.

    At an open air feast 
    we sit or lay
    on turf benches
    and sup a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. three cow salute

    walking to my high school meant walking past three cows
    just as 61st avenue came to its
    senses and straightened up
    south of bethany home road
    and what was then
    a bobwire fence held back these bored cows
    who stood and chewed or didn’t
    and slowly turned
    their
    heads
    in
    unison
    as
    you
    passed

    they were the stolid
    they were the stupefied
    the stunned
    the milkbaggy trio
    the watchers of boys and girls

    they needed a date with a frisky bull
    or maybe they needed nothing
    but daily relief from udder strain
    grass
    and me tweaking their monotony
    into near monotony

    couldn’t tell you
    don’t know why those bored
    and boring cows still lease space
    in a pasture in my head
    just know
    the smell of horseshit does nothing for me
    but
    the smell of cowshit
    has more than once filled
    my stupid stolid eyes
    with nostalgic tears

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my third response:

    A Burning Fox

    A twelve year old lad in a valley
    at the end of a willow copse
    catches a vixen fox, snacker
    on many a farmyard fowl.

    He wraps it in straw and hay,
    sets her alight, she escapes him
    and in her fleeing sets fire to crops
    in the fields, a breeze goads the flames.

    Vital winter’s snap to feed
    family destroyed.

    So every festival of Grow,
    a fox is burned.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Hi Jamie,

    My second response:

    White Lady

    Crowned white lady with flowing hair,
    and fiery shoes, carries a spindle
    and a three-cornered mirror
    that foretells the future.

    For nine nights before May Day,
    chased by Wild Hunt Winter,
    hounded from place to place,
    she seeks refuge among villagers.

    Folk leave their windows open
    so she can find safety
    behind cross-shaped panes.

    Implores a farmer she meets to hide her
    in a shock of grain. He does.
    next morning his rye crop
    is sprinkled with grains of gold

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Hi Jamie,

    My first response:

    Blessed Are These Sacred Folk

    who plough
    who prepare the earth
    who plough with a wide furrow to bring water from the river
    who plant seeds
    who trace the first ploughing, reploughing as first did not work
    who harrow
    who dg
    who weed
    who reap
    who carry the grain
    who store the grain
    who share the grain
    who share their good fortune with us, the dead

    Liked by 3 people

  11. “The Grand Scheme of Things”
    (Raanana, April 11, 2016)

    The dark cloud squats heavily on the horizon
    Undecided whether to drift slowly
    Over our dusty fields with its fat bladder
    Full of drought quenching rains
    Or to drift up the coast a ways
    To quench the thirst of our enemy’s fields.
    O Lord, I know it makes no difference
    In the grand scheme of things,
    But I can’t help the fact
    It would make all the difference in the world
    To me.

    (c) 2016, Mike Stone (https://uncollectedworks.wordpress.com/bemused/)

    Liked by 3 people

  12. “The Dead Don’t Envy the Living”
    (Inspired by Wendell Berry’s “Testament”
    Raanana, August 17, 2018)

    The dead don’t envy the living
    Any more than the living envy the dead.
    Who’s to say what’s the best state
    For matter to be in
    In the long run?
    I would think the best,
    For one above ground,
    Is to make the most of what you are
    And, for those below,
    To make the least.

    (c) 2018, Mike Stone (https://uncollectedworks.wordpress.com/call-of-the-whippoorwill/)

    Liked by 2 people

  13. “On the Backs of Swallows”
    (Inspired by Wendell Berry’s poetry
    Raanana, August 12, 2018)

    I’m not saying we won’t live forever eventually.
    We may or may not.
    City dwellers seem to think it so,
    Detached as they are from the moist clods of dirt
    That cleanses the soul,
    The open skies riding on the backs of changeling swallows,
    And the sweet-tasting water that flows from mountainsides
    Into rock-strewn creek beds.
    It’s just that a farmer knows too well
    Of birth and death,
    Planting his hands in the loam of earth
    With seeds becoming apples or corn
    Under his tender calloused hands
    Which go back to seed in the seasons of their times.
    He knows too well
    That death makes way for life to bud
    As life makes way for death’s decay,
    Too well to hope to live forever,
    Somehow rising above the seasons
    To cheat the way things ought to be.

    (c) 2018, Mike Stone (https://uncollectedworks.wordpress.com/call-of-the-whippoorwill/)

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Hi, Jamie! Wendell Berry is one of my favorite poets. A couple of the poems I’ll be submitting for this week’s prompt were inspired by his work. Another poem is about an imaginary farmer from my neck of the woods. Thanks for being a constant inspiration for us all.

    Liked by 3 people

Thank you!

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