Tag Archives: Mad Farmer



                        By the excellence of his work the workman is a neighbor.
                        By selling only what he would not despise to own
                        the salesman is a neighbor. By selling what is good
                        his character survives the market.

                              – Wendell Berry (“Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer”)

We wish success for all our neighbors, fat
calves and money enough to buy good bulls
looking for work on our side of the fence,
and ours on theirs, despite best intentions.

Today, old neighbors come to help brand calves
with respect—rope, stretch and vaccinate
rambunctious children to a slow waltz—
to share the bounty of our heritage

despite the drought, despite the cows
we had to sell to save the others
and ourselves. Character upon this ground,
we have survived weather and the market.




                        Let me wake in the night
                        and hear it raining
                        and go back to sleep.

                              – Wendell Berry (“Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer”)

The lullaby that soothes my brain,
a metal roof under rain, proof
of gods and goddesses on the job

while I rest completely—let night
take me unafraid anywhere it wants
until the glistening of puddled mornings

blind me with glimpses of paradise
upon this earth, wet and wanting
nothing more from rustic religions.

Every church should acoustically angle
its spires and ridgelines to accentuate
these heaven’s gifts—and to withstand

retribution’s thunderous roar while
renting and gnashing huddle beneath
the storms that flood the rivers muddy.

We are not the architects, nor the nomads
chasing rain from place to place with herds
anymore. We pray instead for basic

sustenance to run upon and off our roofs,
season after season—no two the same—
to wake in the night and hear it raining.




                         Don’t pray for the rain to stop.
                         Pray for good luck fishing
                         when the river floods.

                                – Wendell Berry (“Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer”)

And we will fish reflection pools
with Egrets and Great Blue Herons, wade
cloudy skies when the creek subsides

listening to the glorious chorus of tree frogs
croaking symphonies from fresh verdancy—
the canyon clean, all tracks erased

but for the moment to begin again.
What better luck can any god offer
a mad farmer, or mankind?

April 1968: my feet wet with fishing
the great white limbs of sycamores,
naked canopies reflected below me,

recording fresh soliloquies on war
that have not changed but for poetic
editing each time the creek rises—

hope still claims high water marks
beyond the creek bank, despite
clear-cut scars upon this landscape

after a decade’s invasion of machinery
from towns craving to become cities.
We pray yet for good luck fishing.