Monday, March 16, 2020

YOKEL ( 23 ) ~

P A S T U R E S   O F

Because I believed in what I saw


Field Guide

Blue jay never leaves —

Just changes

Its call

Pastures of Plenty

The truck we are loading is an eighteen 

Foot flatbed with two foot high side 

Panels welded on as thick plate iron. 
Native picked it up from another 

Backwoods boy who bought it for $200 

And sold it to Native for $1,000, though he

Doesn’t seem too troubled by the math since 

He had it paid off in a week hauling salvage.

Today we are hauling salvage, but instead of 

Cleaning it out of the lower pasture and

Getting  it off to a recycling plant in a

Far off town, nothing is working right. 

The loader is broken down mid-pasture, its

Bucket jawed-open in the air.  The dumpsters

Have never been delivered and there’s people

In town who want this place condemned now.

Native’s got cars and trucks and more junk

Already filling an upper pasture, and since 

No jurisdiction has been indicated by the

Town by-laws against that pasture, we heap

Four circus loads of junk this afternoon and

Watch its delivery go to the upper pasture 

Hearing its grumble roll off up there. 

So much for progress — which means

Someday it will all have to be picked

Up again — maybe not by Native and

His bunch, but a cleanup crew that will

Be hired by the town, with taxpayers’

Money (some of it mine), to load it all

Up once more and make these 

Pastures, pastures again.

Not on your life.

If it’s not a junkyard — then it will be real estate.

If it’s real estate — it will be a few new 

Houses built lopsided on turgid ground

Once made of potatoes and cattle and a few

Grazing horses, but the last twenty years ruined 

By oil spills, junk metal and pallets of old

Batteries clumped into a landfill.

For the past four hours we have been 

Tossing gas stoves, bottled tanks, busted

Computer monitors, truck hoods and

Bumpers, a Canon copier and Coke

Machine rolled up onto the flatbed.

It has nothing to do with mechanics and 

Everything to do with making a living the 

Old-fashioned way: moving other people’s junk. 

In another era the king-size flatbed would 

Be carting a towering hold of new baled 

Hay fresh cut off the neighborly fields and 

From these pastures — cowbirds following  

The sting of sunburn and sharp prick nettles

A pecker wet sweat work as the load swayed 

Across the road and down dipped into

The dooryard toward the barn and 

Its upper swung-open hayloft hatch.

But since then it’s been a new dawn —

The barn has burned down and what

Was once grassland has been spoiled.

Three bruiser sons move around shirtless 

Like bears growling out at the road. 

While the old farmer that sold the place 

Refuses to return for a visit.


Clayton, who I haven’t

Spoken to for almost a

Lifetime, I read he shot

A deer first weekend of

Hunting season and the

Poor thing wasn’t more

Than 87 pounds, and I

Can’t help but think of

The youngster next town

Over who was pictured in

The newspaper with his

First buck and all 110

Pounds this boy seemed

To have his arms around

Clayton used to hate me

For my long beard and years

Later when I went to the river

And cut it off, threw it in,

I noticed right after Clayton

Had started one of his own

But we wouldn’t see one

Another until a long time

After that and to this day

I don’t think he even

Knew who I was — talking

Like I knew him — and where’d

I come from suddenly showing

Up in the road where he is

Running his tractor for the

Town chopping down brush but

He stopped a moment when I

Asked if he’d be interested

In signing a petition to help

Save the village covered bridge —

The bridge he drove over since

A boy on sled, manure spreader,

Pulled baler and old trucks

Hell no! how’d I get logs

Over if we don’t finally get

Rid of that bridge and put in

Something that makes sense

Is how he waved-off looking 

At me,  knowing he’d seen me

Somewhere but chewing the

Short hairs around his lips

He can’t remember where or

How so many years ago we killed

Snakes together, fixing fence posts

Shingling roofs and high-stepped

In cement to spread, tap pails

Soldered and slabwood bucked

Those cold blue mornings in the

Dooryard our two figures fiddling

Over a dropsy tractor and day begins

When at first cough of a greasy

Exhaust is all that spoils the air

Bob Arnold