Monday, July 18, 2016


Walk To The Barn

All of life, even the mountains

Around him are changing.

Yet he walks twice each day

To the barn up the wide gravel drive,

No more cattle inside.

His slow and steady pace

Pays respect to the surrounding pasture,

The ring of woodland and evening birds.

What once made him prosperous

Is now gone, except for what he loves —

His wife, old dog, farm buildings and land.

He leans open the heavy sliding barn door,

Steps out of view.

At The Country Wedding

They don’t tinkle

Champagne glasses

With their spoons here

And only the old folks

Are sitting down.

A country western group

Has lugged its equipment upstairs,

And later today and into the evening

This young married couple

Will learn the sweet

And rotten joys

From the masters of it —

Dancing fathers and mothers,

Lonesome aunts and yodeling uncles.

But for the moment

Paper plates are heaped with

Homemade ham, biscuits and beans

And all a few people want

Is a kiss,

So tapping on the side

Of a beer bottle with a knife

Quiets the whole grange hall down

Into love.


Late in the afternoon

This farmer drove his tractor

Across the river, broke open the thin ice,

Put out salt in the bare ground mowing

And if you looked, you could find his

Red jacket working behind the trees.

That night edges of the river froze again.

Big bright stars burned cold over the hills.

I was carrying in cookstove wood

For the next morning

When the gunshot shook down valley,

Then back up.

Two days later a farm dog

Held the deer’s head

Where he lay down

Chained to the barn.


Bob Arnold
(Mad River Press)