Thursday, August 4, 2011


by Bernadette Mayer

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm
I guess it’s too late to move to a farm
I guess it’s too late to start farming
I guess it’s too late to begin farming
I guess we’ll never have a farm
I guess we’re too old to do farming
I guess we couldn’t afford to buy a farm anyway
I guess we’re not suited to being farmers
I guess we’ll never have a farm now
I guess farming is not in the cards now
I guess Lewis wouldn’t make a good farmer
I guess I can’t expect we’ll ever have a farm now
I guess I’ll have to give up all my dreams of being a farmer
I guess I’ll never be a farmer now
We couldn’t get a farm anyway though Allen Ginsberg got one late in life
Maybe someday I’ll have a big garden
I guess farming is really out
Feeding the pigs and the chickens, walking between miles of rows of crops
I guess farming is just too difficult
We’ll never have a farm
Too much work and still to be poets
Who are the farmer poets
Was there ever a poet who had a self-sufficient farm
Flannery O’Connor raised peacocks
And Wendell Berry has a farm
Faulkner may have farmed a little
And Robert Frost had farmland
And someone told me Samuel Beckett farmed
Very few poets are real farmers
If William Carlos Williams could be a doctor and Charlie Vermont too,
Why not a poet who was also a farmer
Of course there was Brook Farm
And Virgil raised bees
Perhaps some poets of the past were overseers of farmers
I guess poets tend to live more momentarily
Than life on a farm would allow
You could never leave the farm to give a reading
Or to go to a lecture by Emerson in Concord
I don’t want to be a farmer but my mother was right
I should never have tried to rise out of the proletariat
Unless I can convince myself as Satan argues with Eve
That we are among a proletariat of poets of all the classes
Each ill-paid and surviving on nothing
Or on as little as one needs to survive
Steadfast as any farmer and fixed as the stars
Tenants of a vision we rent out endlessly