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Three Sides to a Farm

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So now he wants to buy my farm,
he’s got The girl—young squirt showing off how smart he is.
He tries to be casual, off hand, man to man,
‘‘An old bachelor like you,’’ he says, ‘‘could move to town
And take it easy, what do you want for your farm?’’
I spurred him a little, just to see him jump.
‘‘What do you want with a farm? You just got married.
With a wife like that you won’t have time to work.’’
He cocked his head, a grin on his big mouth
(I’d like to knock it back into his teeth),
‘‘Marriage won’t bother me none, she’s a good girl
But she’s got to learn to work, money ain’t free.’’
(Work? That child? Like putting a fawn in harness.)
‘‘One hundred and sixty acres will do to start with.’’
He boasted. Start with? My God, does that boob know
It took me forty years to get it paid for?
‘‘I know you wouldn’t cheat me, you’ve known me
Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper
So I guess we can trust each other.’’ Did
You ever hear such bleat? A milk-fed lamb
Sassing an old buck? ‘‘My wife has money,
A little, I ought to be able to borrow the rest.’’
All right, you borrow and give me the mortgage, Boy.
I’ll show you a trick or two (that girl, that girl,
She shouldn’t have let this young pup lick her hand).
‘‘Me sell my farm? I might at that. Stiff price
On easy terms. Sure we’ve been neighbors, friends,
Since you were born, a contract signed by you
Would suit my book, with yearly payments made
Of interest and principal.’’ Then let him squirm
When he hits a year when he can’t make the payments.
He’ll treat her like a slave and let her sink
Into a dreary round of kids and chores.
(Oh God, if I had that girl I’d build a tower
Out of my love so deep and high and strong
She could only see the love and heart it’s torn from.
I’d walk barefoot through glass to touch her hand.)
Listen and hear him stretch his yapping voice.
‘‘It’s all I need to start with, a quarter section,
Make out the papers and show me where to sign.’’
Did you ever see such a fool? Like his father was
Who always trusted the man who cheated him.
Born as a sheep who wanted to lose his wool,
Well, I was glad to shear him and be obliging.
Let the boy sign, I’ll hold him prisoner
To that signature like a vise, I’ll let him see
(She had the softest hair when a little girl)
Once more how an old fraud leaves a line of tracks
In the snow of the new year.

First Line
So now he wants to buy my farm, he's got
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
A Single Focus. Iowa City: Prairie Press. 1967. 29.
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Oh God, if I had that girl I’d build a tower / Out of my love so deep and high and strong / She could only see the love and heart it’s torn from