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By Ashlee

A few weekends ago I drove with some friends from the Twin Cities to Chicago and saw a whole lot of humble farm land in between.

“Farming States”

Green pastures

Are what we are after

No more skeletal tractors

And burnt fields

Inside our nostrils will never heal

No more littered ditches

And a wool blanket that itches

Cover your ears now

The school bell is how

We know its morning

Leaving these Wisconsin farms

With our sunburned arms

We’ve swallowed enough dirt

For our throats to forever hurt

And to send us back to they city

Companion Poem:

“The Man Born to Farming” by Wendell Berry

The Grower of Trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed
That the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
Like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
Descending in the dark?

By Ashlee

art_the_seaI have a slight fascination with piracy and admittedly have read far too many books about it. However, rarely are women mentioned unless of course they are mistresses of some sort but I would like to have been a pirate with the sea for my home.


Rough hands so raw and so dark

Imbedded with grains of sand

And salt off the ocean

Wind scarred and earth toned


Hair so long and so deep

Gnarled and tangled

Teeming with dust and dirt

And smelling of the sea


Although her skin is worn

She knows you’re wondering

Where she gets that glow

Well, she used to be a pirate

And she buried all the gold

Beneath her skin


Sails that snap and sound

Like the distant drums

Of an unknown tribe

On a land full of treasure


I read this next poem while taking a literature class; it was coupled with another great poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Again, I like the theme of the sea, as in ancient times it represented a state of chaos.

“Break, Break, Break” by Alfred Tennyson

Break, break, break
On thy cold grey stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman’s boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

By Ashlee

Harlan Hubbard was a painter and writer who lived naturally and apart from modern civilization, and lived a full and happy life.

“For Harlan Hubbard”

You, who abuse the earth

Who use what you do not love

You do not work the soil

Or feel the thorns

If ever you were outdoors

A machine is between

The ears and the birds

The nose and the fragrant foliage

The skin and the dust

Degrading yourself, your mind

With labor-savers

The modern world is far too small

In its extravagance they left no room

For the real, good, and natural

You use the world and its goods

Without consideration or love

Reducing creatures and all of creation

To ideas and monetary values

Buying packages

Boxes, cartons of product

Never eating food

You shall waste away

As your bones grow padding

And you skin stretches over

Spilling greed over your jeans

You who consume and take

What big companies put out

On the shelves, endless

Labor, overworked

And underpaid for your

Bargain, what a deal

What a steal

What a shame


Companion Poem:  “Modern Nature” by Andrei Voznesensky

Red cows
on the asphalt road have settled.
Lazing on the asphalt pan they lie.
We drive them round
for cows are sacred!
They are loyal to the highway,
we wonder why.

“Old herdsman, we want our question answered:
Why have the cows gone mad?” “God forbid!
The point is that flies do not like asphalt.”
Those modern cows! The are wise indeed!

They got it, the sly ones! Cattle of genius!
Unlike the poor, unfortunate flies.
“The flies know that asphalt
is carcinogenic.”
Those modern flies! They are really wise!

By Ashlee

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of poems by Sylvia Plath, who was the daughter of an expert on bees.  She wrote a few poems on the topic (one of which is included here), and I too have been fascinated by these amazing creatures, which led me to write this poem. 

“For the Bees”bee

I walk into the swarm
Of bees, whirring
Their entire bodies
Give the air electricity

My skin holds tremors
Yellow blinds while
Black bites
Faint and pinching

While the space between
My stomach and my throat
Fills with itching and sudden
White panic

I won’t let it escape
Or I will create a commotion
That will end with wounds
Red and full

So I remain stormless
As the syrupy wax
Lures my taste
Jar in hand

The queen bee feeds me
Fills me with her work
And I bow to her
And live like her
Demanding respect
For my golden honey

Companion Poem:  “The Beekeeper’s Daughter” by Sylvia Plath

A garden of mouthings. Purple, scarlet-speckled, black
The great corollas dilate, peeling back their silks.
Their musk encroaches, circle after circle,
A well of scents almost too dense to breathe in.
Hieratical in your frock coat, maestro of the bees,
You move among the many-breasted hives,

My heart under your foot, sister of a stone.

Trumpet-throats open to the beaks of birds.
The Golden Rain Tree drips its powders down.
In these little boudoirs streaked with orange and red
The anthers nod their heads, potent as kings
To father dynasties. The air is rich.
Here is a queenship no mother can contest —

A fruit that’s death to taste: dark flesh, dark parings.

In burrows narrow as a finger, solitary bees
Keep house among the grasses. Kneeling down
I set my eyes to a hole-mouth and meet an eye
Round, green, disconsolate as a tear.
Father, bridegroom, in this Easter egg
Under the coronal of sugar roses

The queen bee marries the winter of your year.

By Ashlee

This poem was inspired by the uncomplicated thoughts of childhood.


There’s something quite interestingstars3

In how we have viewed the world

How when we were young

And unspoiled

We saw the world like the animals

Primitive and pristine

The toddler on the porch

Looks up and sees the stars

Each one glittering

And sees nothing else

That is not there

Then the father walks outside

And explains the constellations

Giving them names and

Elaborate explanations

The magic is gone

It’s all over from that point on

And that child will never see

The world the same way again

And he will infect the neighbor kids

Who still see the world

As their own playground


Companion Poem: “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter

To regard the frost and the boughs

Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;


And have been cold a long time

To behold the junipers shagged with ice,

The spruces rough in the distant glitter


Of the January sun; and not to think

Of any misery in the sound of the wind,

In the sound of a few leaves,


Which is the sound of the land

Full of the same wind

That is blowing in the same bare place


For the listener, who listens in the snow,

And, nothing himself, beholds

Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.