SIGH LOW EMPTY

Farmer dusts his cap off
on torn faded Levi jeans
finished sewing winter wheat
so he can pay the banker’s salary
and send Old Man Kellogg’s dynasty to college

it is a banker’s world
he tells me
as we head to the shop where the combine
the thresher
the grain drill
and the shop itself are
sitting up on jacks broke down

he won’t even break even come springtime
and will spend the winter beneath an iron chassis grease-soaked
come April he might be underground
as he looks to the mountain for signs of runoff
and he sighs low and empty
his silos are empty and tell me
there’ll be brawls and tussles over whiskey
but there’ll be war
over
water
he will be forced to sell out next fall
dad gone, kids grown, house burned down to the ground
and the insurance won’t pay
but the banker’s hungry for his paycheck
and Old Man Kellogg is choking on a wad of cash in his gullet
the size of a corncob

and the farmer the silo the combine the bailer
the thresher the grain drill the auger the tractor
the wife the kids the town
the barn the horses the cows
the pivot sprinklers the side roll sprinklers
the ditch the field the creek the lake
the mountain the snowcaps the snow clouds
the rain clouds the coast clouds
the ocean are all sitting up on jacks broke down

From The Red West, and other poems

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