The Poets

They are farmers, really–

hoeing and planting


in strict rows ripe with manure,

coaxing each nebulous seed


to grow.  Year after year

of drought or rainstorm,


locust or killing frost, they bundle

their hay into stacks


of inflammable gold, or litter

the barn floors with empty husks.


At the market they acknowledge

each other gruffly and move on,


noting who has the more bountiful

harvest, whose bushel baskets


are laden with beets and tomatoes,

tumescent with fruit.


Under the sheen of success

or the long shadow of failure,


what they labor for remains

the same: their own muscular


beanstalk rocketing skyward

from a single bean.



Linda Pastan’s many awards include a Pushcart Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and the Ruth Lily Poetry Prize, in 2003. She is the author of over twelve books of poetry- her most recent: Traveling Light (W. W. Norton & Company, 2012).


Issue #30 December 2013
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