The Farm

By David Lee b. 1944 David Lee
We sold it. To a man
who would be a patriarch.
I told John we were closed in,
subdivisions and trailers all around,
complaints of the smell (though
there was none), Ira came out
and told me to keep them fenced
(though none broke out), the neighbors
frightened because someone’s cousin’s
friend heard of a hog
that ate a child who fell in the pen (though
their children rode my sows
at feeding time), because I was tired,
because Jan carried our child and could
no longer help, because she wanted a home.

And the patriarch lost his first crop
to weeds, threw a rod in the tractor,
dug a basement and moved the trailer on
for extra bedrooms, cut the water lines
for a ditch, subdivided the farm
and sold the pigs for sausage. I told John
they were his, they were no longer mine,
I couldn’t be responsible.

The wire connecting our voices was silent
for a moment. “You stupid sonofabitch,” was all
he finally said. “You poor stupid bastard.”

David Lee, “The Farm” from A Legacy of Shadows. Copyright © 1999 by David Lee.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: A Legacy of Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 1999)

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Poet David Lee b. 1944

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Pets, Activities, Jobs & Working, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Life Choices


Born in west Texas, David Lee is the author of numerous poetry collections, including The Porcine Legacy (1974), Driving and Drinking (1979), The Porcine Canticles (1984), Wayburne Pig (1997), News from Down to the Café: New Poems (1999), and A Legacy of Shadows: Selected Poems (1999). Lee has been a boxer, pig farmer, seminary student, cotton mill worker, and the only white baseball player for a Negro League team. He received a . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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