after Wendell Berry
Talk turns from black-eyed peas and collards
to banks closing and governments falling on their knees.
One man’s fix – a gated farm with cattle and swine,
a hired hand to tend the land, airstrip for the pilot in the group,
a pot of chicken stew simmering on a stove,
a cellar stocked with wine.
What was it Orwell said about some animals
being more equal than others?
What to laud, but bomb shelters and moated castles,
hunkering holy behind barbed wire and wrought-iron gates.
They’ll plow acres into perfect rows, the planet
already hot enough to crack stones.
That night the mad farmer dreams
of planting trees, peeing fine champagne into a river.
From nowhere — a field of black soil. He stoops
to load his mule cart, crosses a rickety plank bridge
to a shantytown of hardscrabble dust-and-dung,
passes out shiny shovels.
Barbara Conrad Conrad is author of Wild Plums, published by FutureCycle Press in 2013 and The Gravity of Color, a chapbook published by Main Street Rag in 2007 and editor of Waiting for Soup, a collection of art and poetry from her weekly workshops with homeless neighbors in Charlotte, NC. Her poems have been selected by such journals and anthologies as Tar River Poetry, Pembroke, Broad River, Nine Mile, Southern Women’s Review, Icarus, Kakalak, Jacar Press and Southern Poetry Anthology. Three of her poems were recently finalists for the 2015 NC Literary Review, James Applewhite Prize. Her writings, which focus on personal journey, nature and social justice issues, have won awards, honorable mentions and a Pushcart nomination. She is currrently working on a collection of witness poems focused on world and personal events.