We were supposed to find a news headline and write a poem about it. I happened upon the headline "He's a Farmer 'Til the End" from page 1 of the Los Angeles Times 08/21/09. I have always admired the hard work ethic and deep abiding love of the land that typifies a farmer so I decided to write from his point of view. I hope you enjoy it.
I'll be a farmer 'til the end
and the end is near upon me.
Too old and stooped from heavy years
of bending to my livelihood.
Can't count what's left in seasons now
Just hope to get this last crop in.
The wife passed on some winters back,
"to her reward" I heard it called.
But what reward could be so sweet
you wouldn't miss that rich, black loam?
This ground has been our family place
since old grandpa was just a lad.
The first bit from the free land grab
and more scraped up through long, hard years.
From countries far across the sea
we all came down from farmer stock.
To till and sow and gather up,
and love the dirt and rain and seed.
But something happened on the way,
now no one's left to carry on.
Our son took off for city life
to keep his wife who hates the farm.
One day he'll realize his mistake,
of picking something pale and small
in place of something green and great.
The girl married out, lives in town,
She brings her kids by now and then.
They sit around and play their games,
when all the fun they'd ever need
is in the barn or by the creek.
Once I'm finished they'll sell this plot,
divvy up and spend it away,
Never remembering where they're from.
I will be gone but the land goes on.
Then some other man, more like kin,
with grit in his nails
and steel in his spine
will take over and work these fields,
understanding the blessing
and the Godlike greatness underfoot.