The Llano Estacado

By John Poch John Poch
How much soil do you plow to soothe a conscience?
If you’re a staked plains, dry-land, long view man:
a sky’s worth. Some even sow the dry playa
mid-summer with sorghum, the cotton plowed under
after early hail. Thus, not every farmer keeps
an old broken homestead sacred as a graveyard.
Today, no Sharpshin on a pivot for an omen,
no stoic farmer on a turn-row changing water.

Among a little wind grit, in a grid on a grid, somewhere
like the crossroads of outer space and Earth, Texas,
a handful of ragged elms withstand a long sway
of heat and wind. These old guards of a home haunt
the field but wither even as ghosts must. Honor them
with a walk among homesick bricks, and prophesy good.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2009).

Biography

John Poch was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He earned an MFA from the University of Florida and a PhD from the University of North Texas. The inaugural Colgate University Creative Writing Fellow, Poch also received the “Discovery”/The Nation Prize. His collections of poetry include Poems (2004), Two Men Fighting with a Knife (2008), and Dolls (2009). He teaches at Texas Tech University.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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