The Clerestory Podcast S1 E25

The Oklahoma Tenant Farmer and Me
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A Neglected Patch of Ground Near the Railroad

Dew clings to leaves and calms the dust,
soothing wild asters tangled in goldenrod.
The slant sun gathers in the wet thicket
like the only true word for morning,

slow with depth, finding rest in the back
of the throat, where prayer and breath
are hard to tell apart. The alders
are beginning to burn orange, as summer

leaves them, and a decaying plastic grocery
bag that has snagged on a branch,
which I would, most days, hate and pluck
down with curses, involves the sunlight,

as translucent a page of tatters as memory is.
There are reasons to keep moving,
but a faint mist rises, and many small lives
huddle here, about to burst into their good noise.

The woman hurrying her dog must
wonder what is wrong with me.

James Owens's newest book is Family Portrait with Scythe (Bottom Dog Press, 2020. His poems and translations appear widely in literary journals, including recent or upcoming publications in Arc, Dalhousie Review, The Christian Century, Dappled Things and Vita Poetica. He earned an MFA at the University of Alabama and lives in a small town in northern Ontario.

Discover more from James Owens .