One afternoon, the last week on Fletcher’s Ranch

Run the dump truck after the combines

Then across the field to the auger pit

Engage the power-take-off on the tractor

Dump the barley and screw it up into the silo

Sweep up and back to chase the harvesters


They work ahead I pause to roll

A cigarette one-handed (yes)

A quick smoke and before I can put my boot

On top of dropped butt

I am standing in a widening black circle

Linc and Fletch and Jinx come running


Jackets flailing, cursing, kicking dirt

You dumb ass city kid

Why the hell do you think we all dip snuff

You dumb ass city kid

You coulda burned up the rest of the harvest

You dumb ass city kid



Up at 5 next day for breakfast

Eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, steak,

Three kinds potatoes and two kinds of toast

Now to work says Linc try some of this

Just a pinch between gum and lip

And don’t swallow dumb ass city kid


Start the tractor first chore of the day

Set the choke crank crank crank nothing

Check the choke crank crank crank still cold

Back the choke off crank crank crank blow chow

Don’t barf in the auger pit

Dumb ass city kid


Linc’s heavy gloved hand

On my back and I finish retching

You ok let’s get back to work partner


Previously published in Medusa’s Kitchen


Fire on the Mountain, 2013

Fire on the Mountain, 2013