Mike Chasar The 2River View, 8.2 (Winter 2004)

No Ark in Cornland

1. The Big D

It’s drought here in Cornland, brown and dry.
The carrots are nothing
                                       but stumped nubs,
and even the flowers are losing their vowels.

Glad-ee-oh-la: it’s pointless to bundle them up.
And you should see the corn
                                               not even good for tamales
seven feet high but bone-brown from tassel to ear,

acres of hazard. Dire. Ire. It’s down to the agri-wire.
And don't even mention the F-word:
The Prez is due to arrive, deem us doomed, declare

a disaster, dum-de-dum, den depart, dig? Dis, though,
is our land. We dig it
                                   and dude, the dryness is deep
but damn if we’re givin' it up. These are our fields, man,

de cornstalks are people. From the porch, their tassels
could well be thousands of hands
                                                       raised together
ready to carry me out toward a brown sun.

2. A Natural Trust

In the steel-like field I stood when the thunder hit
and the sky split.
                              All day, way in the West,
the storm-clouds pressed (my heart, my chest)

less East than up but nevertheless a moveable feast,
a blessing, rest.
                           In the steel-like field I stood
when the first drops hit. I felt the sun submit

and the first explicit drops commit to the dust,
a sudden, almost illicit
                                      but nevertheless
natural trust. In the steel-like field I stood when

—why not?—it was off with my shirt. (What
could it hurt,
                     this bare-chested man and his
parched dirt?) Then belt and boots. Then the wide-

open arms, the stalk of a waist and tousseled hair
as if (again)
                    I’d discovered my roots on the farm,
as if I’d found it was myself which held me there.

3. Lakeland

Things is mainly painful since the rain—that slow
seducing handshake,
                                   the shiver and chill,
the welcome-home turned downpour, then drenching,

then out-and-out drowning. But what pouting lips
they were (I think they were),
                                                 what lush kiss,
what drops (I thought they were drops) which the crops

in their raised beds let linger trickle down and bathe.
What purr, pour,
                             what ease, (oh oh remember please),
what tassel-turning tryst through the unteased corn. . . .

But then the flood. Mud. Crud. My acres ached,
my tomatoes, man,
                                were drowned at the stake.
Cornland, by morning, was nothing but lake.

4. No Ark in Cornland

Does the sludge hold a grudge? Half manure,
I’m sure
               there’s something more pure,
but maybe, after the rain, I’m not the best one to judge.

My tires won’t budge. The farmhouse roof is leaking.
My business is swamped
                                          literally speaking.
There is no ark in Cornland; nothing I’ve got will float.

When I stand, this morning, knee-deep in the land,
it’s clear that no Noah is here,
                                                 and everything’s moat.
I’m not in the two-by-two's. I’m not of the saved.

I’m of the stranded, unhanded, the over-demanded.
I figured I done my time,
                                        I figured I paid my dues,
but I’m still sittin’ here singin’

just sittin’ here sittin’ here sittin’ here singin’ the blues.

5. Drying Is an Art

Drying is an art, like everything else. The corn?
               The drowned ground
is sound. The long-lost crops I really thought

the rain had got are found, and the sun I fought
is back, and hot.
                            This seems
my lot in life—does it not?—to court the sun

while I’m getting rain, then to pray for rain
when the sun’s come back
                                            and we’re drying again.
I’ve died and dried and prayed and paid and when

I think I’ve got the old pat drown part my heat
is downed or I’m stuck
                                      with the heart of doubt.
Is it so pointless? To harvest and hold, to have

and not, to dig and dam in time of plenty or drought?
It’s a living it is,
                           a politic body, love, an art.
Breathe in. Now. Hold. It. And breathe it out.