The Epic Poem [home] [contents] [comments] [discussion] [shop]
       A Verse Narrative by Michael E. Mautner



Farmer Man

    April, 1917.

    Not a body thought to bring food
    (least no more than would do him good),
    and, if the promised other men
    don't arrive soon, then the green corn
    in the field will get to looking
    okay to eat without cooking,
    to risk one's teeth on.  Eben Kent
    is that hungry, takes the brisk walk,
    shucks the husk, rips it off the stalk,
    chews kernels like elephant tusks
    tear coconuts open to suck
    all the milk out.  Now he can think.
    "It'll be great fun," John Ross had said,
    "Great things are gonna get done --
     bring this war to a quick end."
    Workingmen everywhere betrayed
    by the declaration;
    Mr. Wilson had to pay,
    and the common wisdom was
    ordinary folk could make him
    by joining the rebellion
    in Oklahoma.  Farmers cut
    the Western telegraph lines,
    severed communications
    between trans-Mississippi
    and Washington: Halt the supplies,
    the idea, bring the gov'ment down.
    Now hundreds of folks are damn near
    starving.  All that's come to an end
    is Eben's granger idealism.
    Ross will not be forgiven soon.

    He has done with the raw corn
    when it happens.  Hoofbeat thunder
    shakes him like a barnyard dance
    awakens when the music starts.
    One rider points a shotgun,
    finishing Ross' mulecart
    as the others rake their havoc
    across the shantytown camp
    with broomsticks, clubs, and torches.
    Eben gets down on his haunches.
    Unarmed, from the tall corn he watches
    the "patriot" posses show their scorn.
    They tear tents and shatter lanterns;
    beds of straw burn and white placards
    bleed black ink as they overturn
    the dissidents' makeshift cistern
    onto the picket-sign store.
    The Russian monopoly
    on revolution will stand,
    but theirs on pogroms is no more.

    From behind Eben, a tap --
    one of the white-cloaked men.
    Startled, he almost jumps up,
    but John Ross prevents him,
    hands him a hooded sheet like his
    and says, "Here, quick, put on this!"
    Eben complies and they make
    their way, disguised, to a horse.
    "Where did you get all this?,"
    Eben asks, whispering through a hole
    in the mask.  "Off of one of their men,"
    Ross answers as he takes the reigns,
    "After I had to kill him."

    Hoofbeat thunder builds below them.
    Eben holds onto his friend,
    a sickness in his stomach
    to travel on from the raw corn
    and all lingering ideals worn thin.
    John gives the horse a tighter squeeze
    and two still living men are gone,
    sheets flapping in their rushing breeze.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46
47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 

NEXT CANTO <font size=-1>NEXT CANTO</font>

Superman The American Way Cap!
The Epic Poem


Powered by