Monday, June 27, 2011

I'm Down on the Farm

By Joseph Hesch

Outside my office, within which
I breed competent lies, appears
a gloriously green wall of flora.
Oaks and maples spread natural curtains
over the unnatural expanse between
my lofty nest and the red-brick
buildings across the way.
The too-short between-seasons
reveal the scars of urban inattention
to what goes on behind old buildings' backs:
the debris scatter of soggy cardboard boxes,
the emerald-glint broken bottles of cheap wine,
and bushels of cigarette butts.
Also, if you look really hard, really long,
you’ll see bony carcasses of
the now-meatless dreams
of the human livestock who stayed on
these farms far too long.

Back inside, I sense the hums of ceiling fans,
of phony fluorescent suns above me
and the coaxial-rooted box at my feet.
But I want to stand beneath the actual sun
and travel through naturally moving air.
I want to hear the ring of real fountains,
the salty avalanche of crashing surf,
the chiming of God’s waterfalls.
I want to touch and be touched by people
who have more to think, talk and dream about
than their wasted pasts and pipedream futures.
I don’t want to have to address my life
in agri-metaphors anymore because to see
its reality is too depressing, too devoid of joy.
Someday I’m going to leave this behind.
See, I’m tired of this lying altogether.

A couple of weeks ago, when my One Stop Poetry friend Claudia Schönfeld interviewed me, she noted that some of my poetry reveals what she called "frustration" with my day job. I won't say it's frustration, but I have gotten tired and introspective as I creep closer to another landmark in my working life. So I thought I'd get something ready to carve on such a landmark. Sorry for its length. That's not like me. But the emotion and impressions are. Maybe you can relate.


  1. What a day I've picked to read this write! Oh, Joe...I can so relate! I've got the rubber boots and fishing poles stored in my car where my clients should be sitting, and my notebook held nice and tight. I so just want to drink good coffee, have good conversations, and break bread with like minded folks...The Cult of Tashtoo...has a nice ring to it! But enough abot me! This was another fantastic write, and the images you painted, more powerful than usual..if that's possible!

  2. The office job. It's strangling really...for me. And outside there is air, and breeze, and water, but still a city, the majority of it cast in the gray blend-all color of cement. I would have to go farther, far beyond the front door of this square to feel the world as round again.

  3. re your DM...they are both very different and good in their own specific voice..think i would go with this one though..

  4. There are times that grate on the soul of a person. The workplace can be a real meat grinder of the person, the dreams, the gist of what makes somebody special and unique.

    Your poem addresses these quite well, and fairly succinctly.

  5. this is a great poem... its strength keeps up all the way through!

  6. dang...strong write...the bleakness comes along powerfully in the opening stanza and the desire to escape it in the next...solid write...

  7. If it's good, Joe, who minds the length? Well struck, capturing a scene and your sentiments quite nicely...the office, well, it's mixed for a lot of people. Some flourish in such environments, others suffocate...this one drew me back to moments in an office, daydreaming for the summer greenery...

  8. I think this is absolutely amazing. It's filled with wonderful lines like, "the scars of urban inattention"

    And, I know this feeling. I worked in a cubicle prison for less than a year. I simply couldn't take the soul drain of it all any longer than I did. I totally felt this one.

  9. I love the idea of breeding competent lies. Great phrase I wish I could steal. ;-)

  10. Favorite lines:
    "I want to touch and be touched by people
    who have more to think, talk and dream about
    than their wasted pasts and pipedream futures."

    I've never found a soul-mate in an office. Yes, many friends, some of whom indulged my passion for art and words and many who loved music but none were there in this cafe I've found at One Stop! Thanks for being part of it.

  11. Feels hypersensitive, ultra-aware. A nerve-bundled series of precise observations perfectly lined up on the page.

  12. "what goes on behind old buildings' backs..." you completely got me with that one, and the following build-up of angst and uselessness. I can feel your sense of captivity from here, it's so strong--I remember that place, and I can tell you, it kills souls. But this is fine writing, and that helps a bit I think. I had a fantasy when I worked of running from office door to office door and opening them so the people inside could get out...some I imagined just sitting there blankly, but some, like yourself, would be flying instantly.

  13. "But I want to stand beneath the actual sun
    and travel through naturally moving air."

    Love it - the poem reminds me of all my office jobs, in every one, I could barely breathe.
    Thanks for this excellent reminder that freelancing was the right way to go for me!
    Hope you find your way out soon, too...

  14. So much description is packed into this verse, I felt like I ate a rich, flavourful meal! It takes talent and ingenuity to do this, so thank you for sharing here, I really enjoyed your work.

  15. There's so much to like about this poem-frustration with the office job, great imagery, and a classic case of the poet realizing his pretension.

  16. I can relate. Excellent writing.

  17. Such descriptive "joy" of work for the depised day job ~ well explored

  18. "I breed competent lies" what a line! That says it all. A slogan for the corporate world. How well so many of us can relate to your wonderful poem, it's imagry, it's intrinsic longing for the fresh air of meaningful bonding with nature and "natural" ppl. Thanks for this!

  19. This touches the heart of anyone who suffers the soul sapping of the daily grind ~ may you find freedom soon, in one form or another..

  20. Great writing. I think we can all relate to this.

  21. Very good piece Joe, the caged emotion was delivered perfectly here. Its a trap that I am sure we all can relate to at some level, you capture the experience well. ~ Rose

  22. This is great, you paint a complete picture. I particularly love the first half, which could stand alone (for me), "you’ll see bony carcasses of the now-meatless dreams" - outstanding