Five Poems by Christopher Prewitt

A Farmer’s Son


I am a farmer’s son

Every­one thinks

My heart’s in recession

Because most things I eat

I first have to raise

But it is not

Fun even to shoe a horse

I have thoughts

Despite the benefits

That a nail in a hoof is

A nail in the arm on the crucifix

A red sun over blue hills

Doesn’t mean bad weather

In the evening

I think of walk­ing into town

And using the rag of my face

To keep the red high heels

Of beau­ti­ful women dry

As they step from the sidewalk

To cross the street to their rich

Adul­ter­ous lovers in shiny red cars

With dark-tint­ed windows.



Gospel of a Farmer’s Son


For a moment I was ready

to die in the inten­sive care unit

of a hay roll. This was the summer


I’d sit in the evenings

and watch the Hat­fields cross into

the Pike Coun­ty, Ken­tucky of the dead.


They could only choose between that

or Min­go Coun­ty, West Virginia,

but where was the hon­or in living


if oth­er fam­i­lies could die better?

I don’t know what to tell you.

One day it was winter,


a car­di­nal burst through a mound

of snow in my eye,

and I knew the punks kick­ing in


my ribs were only sparrows

caught scared in an all-night hailstorm.

Now that I’m hap­py I don’t mind


that the blood I coughed was mine.

That the way I lived makes me

grieve is at the heart of every gospel


tes­ti­mo­ny is why I’m here

in my cadaver’s skin of blue pigment

like anti-freeze, say­ing Amen.



The Gold­en Age of a Farmer’s Son


I was seven-years-old.

Do you know what

you can do with that sort of time?


Here’s what my dad did that June:


he held my hand,

I was lean­ing too hard on the rails

of the wood­en scaf­fold walkway

above the stalls in the stockyard.


Cat­tle were being unloaded,

a man hit them on the skull

with a long, red staff

if they hes­i­tat­ed to move forward

to receive their orange tag.


I was laugh­ing way too hard.


The goats below us were numerous,

over­crowd­ed like teeth

I couldn’t afford braces to fix.


One goat was try­ing like hell

to mount another

amongst dozens of others.


Even now when I think of love

I think of those goats.

How sense­less it is


to try to get away.




The Dark Mane and a Farmer’s Son

Two thoughts come to me

look­ing at my father

in his cas­ket: how


eas­i­ly bucked a faith­ful man

is from his religion,

and if this was the age


that I would nev­er be.

I thought for years

that a choco­late mare


would car­ry in its mane

my death even before my name

was known to me.


I knew not to be deceived

by brown, long, slen­der legs

and a lift­ed anus,


for there is nothing

in a legion of flies buzzing

around the ears to suggest


any­thing but impend­ing death.

Yet my father loved them

even as he whipped them




for jerk­ing as he hammered

fash­ion for their own good,

and every clink, curse, and smack


made me quiver, sit­ting in the truck

he left run­ning in winter

while I wait­ed for the bus.


Father, I won­dered, how far

can a man go mock­ing his mortality?

I sus­pect he would say—


if not for the tetanus of his rage,

as he caught me quivering

on the sad­dle at a young age—


death comes to everyone

who leans against the wire fence

post soon enough.


Chris Prewitt's writ­ing has been nom­i­nat­ed for the Best of the Net anthol­o­gy and the Push­cart Prize. His writ­ing has appeared in or is forth­com­ing in the New­erY­ork, Four Way Review, Rat­tle, The Iowa Review, Ghost Ocean Mag­a­zine, and Vinyl, among many others.

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