In bronzing sun he toils away and swings with smooth broad strokes
his sickle blade made sharp and clean and ready with a stone.
And so it’s always been. Perhaps his instruments of war
have changed. With evening’s holy care and task of reverence,
he daily fells ripe wheat, not men. Chaff glints in yellow air.
He lives and strives alone beneath his roof and wide-brimmed hat.
When noontime comes he doffs his Union coat and works the land.
The storm that took his brothers’ lives yet lingers close at hand,
and mustering clouds of sky’s own stores of fierce and fence-less thunder
lurk in dark blue acres, always there to lay men low.
His sun-fired wheat burns harvest red while gray war smolders still.
In scything swaths of tender grain that gathers at his feet
he hears the hum of distant guns and sighs of dying men.
He wipes his face and drinks his fill and marches through the grass,
and leans and turns his body for the sake of aftermath.
Generals coldly wage and watch their battles from the hills.
Herodotus is watching, too, from hills beyond the frame,
who sees the men, but not as wheat, their blood, but not as rain--
he reaps the truth in all his numbers of the fallen dead,
and dreams of soldier-farmers turning killing fields to bread.
At 19, Brian Palmer moved to the American West to walk in the profoundly beautiful Rocky Mountains, on western prairies, through red rock canyons, and along Pacific shorelines. He came west to find adventure and solitude, to write poetry, and to fulfill his dream of living a full western life. He received his undergraduate B.A. degree from Colorado State University and taught high school English for 25 years, first in the Pacific Northwest and then in Colorado. He earned his MFA in Poetry from Western Colorado University. He has recently retired from teaching to pursue his poetry more fully. He currently lives with his wife in Fruita, Colorado and is excited to start down new (and maybe some old) trails.
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