Poetry / July 2011 (Issue 14)

The Farmer Express

by J.H. Martin

A man in a straw hat
cleans his stained teeth
with a well-chewed pick.

He stares out blankly
at the fields
of the only world
he has ever known,
stretching on out into the distance.

Cheap atomic sausage stands,
held in place by grease and tape,
beckon him to jars of wine
filled with bees,
balanced on kettles
full of boiled chicken's feet.

The man takes a slug
from the newly-bought bottle,
standing next to his suitcase
and fake brand-name bag,
lost in the afternoon,
dreaming of a warm bed and food.

He wears combats
with loafers that don't match
his white cotton shirt.

He has nothing in particular.
He doesn't care.
Right now, he is free.

Free to stare
at the world he understands
in those harrowed fields.
Free to look
at the well-dressed city women,
pale and pouting,
looking down
at the locals' skin tone
darkening in the bright 4 PM sun.

Free to crouch and smoke
in the shadow of the bus
that will take him on
to construction sites,
two bowls of noodles
rotating twelve-hour shifts,
and cheap three kuai bottles of baijiu
on a Friday night.

He throws the butt into the dirt,
stands and takes another hit.

Climbing onto the bus
he is gone,
lost in the dust crowd,

gone and beat,

beat and gone.
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All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.