Life’s Old Bones

Charlie was a farmer all his life. It was a small farm; about a hundred acres. He milked cows every day until he was seventy years old. It was a good life, but much of that was gone now. His wife died a year ago in April. His only daughter married a man who worked in the technology field. The only alternative was to sell the farm.

On auction day, folks came from miles around. Tractors and implements sold quickly. The thirty milk cows did as well. The farm sold for more than a half a million dollars.

All that seemed insignificant now, as he stared at the shell of a dilapidated barn, out the window of the rest home. Charlie thought to himself, “Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy, One day I will collapse, just like that old barn.”

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Linda asked us to write a flash fiction of exactly 144 words, using a line from a poem, Spring Azures from the book Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. The line is… ‘Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy.’

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Red

Red is a Farmall Tractor

sitting tall and proud

Yellow sun glistens off

the hood as the engine

below sends blue flame

up the stack / with a crack

For me, it has to be

a red Farmall M

No green John Deere will do

An orange Allis Chalmers

just makes me spew

Red takes me back

to days gone by

Riding high on that seat

Feeling the sun on my head

and all that power beneath me

Photos; Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse we are trying a new form of poetry. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary experiences of a second one.   There are over 80 types of synesthesia described by science.   Nearly every combination of sensory experiences or cognitive concepts is possible.

Seeing music as colors is one form of synesthesia. Perceiving letters as personalities is another one,  or seeing numbers in color. Even hearing colors or touching smells. Today I am writing as Red being the color of vintage Farmall tractors that I drove in my teen years on the farm.

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Charles Atlas

Charles Atlas ad

When I was an twelve years old, in 1959, I was big for my age. My mother bought me clothes that had ” Husky” on the label. I felt very self-conscious and wished I could be skinny, fit, and muscular like the Charles Atlas ads I saw in the back of every comic book. Once, I cut out the ad filled, in my name and information, and sent it in. In a couple of weeks, I got an envelop with a set of mimeographed pages illustrating a set of exercised to do. I soon lost interest in that effort.

When I tuned thirteen, my parents had the insight to send me to work summers on my uncle’s dairy farm. Daily labor pitching haybales worked much better for becoming fit. I loved the farm, and worked there five summers. By the time I graduated high school, I was slim, trim and muscular. Now I am back to Husky plus!

Atlas course goes bust

Baling hay builds strong muscles

Summers on the farm

Rusting Memories

Farmall M 15 (3)

John Deere Disc Plow sits
Rusting  // memories long gone
Iron and steel recalls
Plowing raw earth deep furrows
Bringing up sharp arrowheads
musket balls and bones
of soldiers // soon forgotten
Blood // mixed with red clay

Farmall M 8 (2)

Farmall M 9 (2)

Farmall M 1

Photos: Taken at Wesley Chapel, NC   –  Dwight L. Roth

Cry For Our Farmland

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Development encroaches into the countryside
New houses creep onto our farms and fields
Blacktop streets checkerboard rolling hills
Infrastructure circulates underground
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Cry for our farmland // fast disappearing
More mouths to feed // less land to grow crops
Farmland going into extinction
Who’ll grow our food?

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Linda at d’Verse asked us to write a Quadrille of 44 words using the prompt extinction. Some believe Climate Change is going to bring us to the edge of extinction, but I believe it is the population explosion that will be our demise. When all the farm land is gone where will our food come from to feed billions of people?

The land in the photos is across from the development where I live. It has just been rezoned for more than 400 new houses. The field grew up in weeds this summer. This week they began getting ready to put in the infrastructure.

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Goat School

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Once upon a time this goat shed held children;
A place for learning where my father taught.
Filled with desks, chairs, and cute Amish youngins’
All eight grades in one room was quite a lot.
King School //a microcosm of learning
Shaped teachers, preachers, and cute farmers’ wives.
For some, eight grades met their need for farming;
Where they worked the land the rest of their lives.
Time moved on and so have all the students;
Who never imagined what was in store.
For their little one room school house wouldn’t
Last forever // in time // would be no more
A shed for goats in the shell that is left;
Sheds no more light on America’s best.

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Lillian at d’Verse, asked us to think about the many meanings of the word shed;  and write a poem of our choice. It is sad to see the school where my father started his teaching career turn into a goat shed. I attempted to write a sonnet expressing some of those feelings.

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Midsummer Rains

Farm - Uncle Fred bailing hay 001

Midsummer Rains   (a Haibun)

During my teens, I worked for five summers on my uncle’s 100-acre Pennsylvania dairy farm. I loved being able to drive the tractors, long before I was old enough to drive a car. In mid-July we would make our second cutting of hay. We always tried to get it dry and into the barn between the midsummer rain showers.

baling hay

On occasion we would be racing across the field making our last round with the baler, watching the thunderheads rising above the mountain. The sprinkles started as we backed the hay wagon onto the barn floor. It wasn’t long until the rain would be drumming on the tin roof of the barn. It was a wonderful sound to hear.

Farmer baling hay

Midsummer rain coming fast

Drumming the tin roof

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Family photos

For our Haikai challenge, Frank Tassone asked us to write about midsummer rains. Older calendars have summer starting in May, so by the end of June it would be mid summer. This took me back a few years to me time on the farm. Rain showers can be good or bad depending the circumstance, as you can see.

Farm - bring in the hay to the barn 001

#Haikai Challenge #39 (6/23/18): midsummer rain (samidare) #haiku #senryu #haibun #tanka #haiga #renga

Another perspective:

Midsummer rains fall

Bringing farmers liquid gold

Gold in many forms

Alfalfa Hay

baling hay

 

What is that wonderful smell

Drifting from field to window

Driving through the Pennsylvania countryside?

It is the smell of new mown hay…

Alfalfa drying in the summer sunshine.

Aroma like mint tea leaves crushed between fingers

Overpowering the rich smells coming from

The cow manure flying from the spreader

Still pulled by Amish horses a century later.

Alfalfa hay raked and baled filling hay mows…

Favorite of cows and heifers on cold winter days.

Green turned to white and hauled away

In a bulk tank truck for our breakfast table

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Photo: from the family album

At d’Verse poetry group today Bjorn asked that we think about scents in our poetry today. Having worked on my uncle’s farm for five summers as a teenager, I have a great appreciation for the scent of new mown hay. Alfalfa was the hay of choice in Pennsylvania. This smell always takes me back to the farming days of the early 1960s. The photo above comes from that era.

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Pennsylvania Memories

 

Pennsylvania MemoriesIMG_8599

My birthplace and childhood home will always have a special place in my heart. Growing up in Western Pennsylvania and spending five summers on my uncle’s farm in Central Pennsylvania, has left indelible impressions in my mind. My parent and grandparents, uncles and aunts, all lived and grew up there.  Staying in Virginia after college and later moving to North Carolina has not dampened my appreciation of the state of my birth. This poem tells how I feel about it.

In the corner of the state just north of the Mason Dixon

Along the Monongahela River is a place called Masontown

I was born beside a coal bank

Just a mile outside of town

‘Twas Sunday noon on the fourth of May

Dr. Messmore came knocking out our way

He welcomed me into the world

In that good old fashioned way

Dwight Roth  - age one 001

Pappa was a preacher so money was tight

A well-dressed chicken for the doc would suffice.

Pittsburgh not far from home

Only fifty-one miles up route fifty-one

A day trip to the airport was always fun

Watching TWA birds go and come

Pirate baseball cards clicked in my spokes

Alongside Cubs, Yankees, and other folks

High School trips to Kennywood Park

To ride the coaster till it got dark

Over the river and through the woods

We traveled to Grandma’s house

To Beautiful Big Valley only four hours away

On the Fourth of July and every Christmas day

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Uncles, Aunts, and lots of cousins,

Farms tractors, hay fields, and slow Amish buggies

I spent five summers there driving the tractor

Chasing cows, pitching hay, Uncle Fred was quite the actor

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Lancaster County makes me high,

Homemade Bread, Sweet Bologna, and Shoo-fly Pie

Down the Turnpike through tunnels and hills

To Ruth’s Grandma’s house up Blueball hill

Breaking down in the middle of nowhere

A broken crankshaft in my 61 Corvair

Dwight's 61 Covair

Five hours in Camp Hill… not much fun

Sitting in our car till my dad could come

Eastern Pennsylvania where two brothers reside

Is where my Mom spent her eventide

Each time we’d visit was always great fun

But glad to head south with the setting sun

Down through Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond

I-95 is never a fun run

Too many people too many roads and too many cars

Philadelphia holds no place in my mind

As much as I love my native state

My home’s in Caroline

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Pennsylvania such a beautiful state

With mountains, farms, and rivers

In my heart it’s is near and dear

I will cherish it forever

It is Pennsylvania from where my roots came

Coal dust runs deep in my veins

And although my home’s in Caroline

Memories of Pennsylvania will always make me pine

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