poem: farmer’s land (after mike mlekodaj)

I’ve never kissed a cherry plum. Taste buds,
they remind me of peach fuzz and butter
and I want to drive downtown to Farmer’s Land.
Not for the farmers so much as the veggies:
I love the way they cleanse you of preservatives
and the washing is a bobbing for apples
by kids with haunted birthday jaws.
All I can think of is their munching.
They sounded like they knew the taste
of home in their chest
that wouldn’t digest until you understood
their stories. Mine is about trying to catch
locally grown cherry plums.
It’s the closest we come with our groceries.

That’s why I drove down to the Farmer’s Market.
Ditched ol’ granny smith in the river
and fished her out like a savior’s wife.
I learned that nobody actually speaks in tongues
’til they’ve licked raw tamales and now?
I’ve swallowed tamales. Down here
we call it the burning. I think it’s a better flavoring
than gluttonous seasoning and Hector Tabasco.
Who needs a super store when we’ve got the market?
We have a shack back there but we only use it
for packing our compost and recycling.
There’s something humbling about a farmer’s
daughter that goes way beyond two-for-one deals for yellow squash
and the exhaust in her eyes. Thou shalt not steal
our customers with your more-earthy-than-thou rhetoric.
We all learned how to feed, just sometimes not with our mouths.
You should fasten yours.

We praise every scent in the air. Sing “What’ll It Cost”
like escort soliciting. Call me hippie and I’ll kiss
you like you were Janis. We bless each others’ trees
before working the fields and these trees get holy.
Our corn is raised from dust—like kola nuts—like framed
glass—but there’s more to us than tasty berries.
We each got a story rattling in our hickory haunt bellies
but you don’t even got the time to ask.

I’ll bet you think we’re all a bunch of subsidized
bad math, shower hating hicks.
But I only know one vendor like that and her name is Patricia.
She plants carrots in the backwoods.
You know she means it when she tells you to pocket your wallet
and hands a grinning pumpkin to your mother.
On the night her daddy cried about the mortgage
the first thing Patricia did was beg forgiveness
and burn her barnyard apartment. She survived.
The Autumn Ghost is with her. We are all signs and scarecrows
like God drives around in his Horse and Buggy
dragging the bumper just to splinter a piece of His cross.

Leave your grocery lines. Leave your shopping carts.
Leave your indoor salad bars and come here.
Here where the harvest comes every Saturday
and every Thursday we’re starved again. Come.
Feel our dirt salting your cucumbers—it is blessed.
Learn to speak in tongues, call it organic
if it makes you feel hipster. Come: feel
this sardine parking lot ecstasy, this sweet
spinach revival, this twisty soft pretzel of the soul–
the soul—a stone bird sculpture uninventable–
a wrapped sandwich built of entrees like vegan beans
and seedless melon immortal—the soul—you’ve probably never held one before.
But then again, I’ll bet you’ve never kissed a cherry plum.

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