Archive for the Arlin Buyert Category

Times of Darkness by Arlin Buyert

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on November 7, 2013 by Scot

–With thanks to Iris DeMent

Tell me what to say:
I lied to Mom about Roxie.
I stole my brother’s cigarettes.
I pushed the neighbor girl into the creek.
I hit my sister.
I lied to Rev. Haan about tacks on the chairs.
I cheated on the biology test.
I cut off the rooster’s leg.
I shot and killed a crow– for fun.
I told Johnny he was fat and ugly.
I didn’t run the whole mile.
Tell me what to say
before you wash my feet
in Rock Creek.

Mason Jars by Arlin Buyert

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on October 8, 2013 by Scot

Sometime in May,
when frost had been warmed,
King and Kernel pulled the disc, again and again,
over our half-acre garden plot
pitched between our farm house and the orchard.

Wood stakes, sledged down by Dad,
harnessed by taut twine that shadowed
straight rows thirty-six inches apart
planted with beets, carrots, sweet corn, green beans
and tomatoes imprisoned in tall hog-wire cages.

Later in August,
apples falling, tomatoes red,
corn tassels dusting down the silk,
beets and carrots toiling in the soil with purpose,
all direct Mom to boil five-hundred quart jars
in preparation for the holy ritual of harvest.

Beets and their dirt partners are boiled,
sliced and carefully spooned through a funnel
perched atop an eager jar. We listened
to their popping lids into the moonlight
as the jars awaited their return to our earthen cellar
where they rested on wood shelves until suppertime
come winter.

The Other War by Arlin Buyert

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on August 3, 2013 by Scot

I got my Navy wings in January 1968
when two wars were going on:
Viet Nam and Mississippi.

I had orders to fly F-4s over the jungle
but overnight they changed to Training Squadron Seven
at NAS Meridian.  On my way through Mississippi
I drove through Philadelphia and wondered
about the black and white blood
spilled on the dam’s red clay.

My first week in town the synagogue burned
and I saw “White Only”  at Weidmann’s Restaurant.
A month later Ensign Harding (with his white wife)
reported for pilot training holding a BS in Aeronautical Engineering
from Stanford.  No one would teach him

so the Commanding Officer calls a meeting in the Ready Room.
“Damn it men, I know this is unusual but someone has to take him.
He wants to serve our county, his country, so do I see a hand?”
He did not.

The next day, a fellow flight instructor greets me in the hall:
“So just when did you become a fucking nigger lover?”

Almost Heaven by Arlin Buyert

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on November 25, 2012 by Scot

Our Iowa farm cradles me
with its stately red barn,
white clapboard farmhouse
and family grave yard on the hill.

Straight but swaying rows of tall corn
dig quietly into the black dirt,
as the oat field rolls with the wind
on the back 40.

Guernsey cows bow down
and grind their cud in the pasture
that is neatly parted by Rock Creek
and guarded by the windmill’s fan.

Chickens scratch with alternating claws
for a speck of left-over corn
and Tippie our terrier tends the night
that lights Big Dipper and Orion’s belt.

But then–I behead and strip
a young rooster for suppertime.
Winter snow crushes our hog-house roof
and the Holstein bull gores our neighbor (never again).

Lightning finds five calves under the cottonwood tree
and July hail hacks the beans and oats.
A late frost claims the early corn
and the corn picker maims my uncle’s hand.

Our old sow eats her piglets—
“Son of a bitch!  Son, go get the 22.”

Not Sure by Arlin Buyert

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on September 27, 2012 by Scot

Dad dies in his bib overalls
with a shovel in his hands,
working for the city after selling the farm.

Post-mortem reveals many cigarettes
and a shroud of wonder,
like one slice of his apple,

unknown until after the funeral,
when in our family room
I overhear my mother and aunt whispering:

“Why did she have to come?”

Whispers by Arlin Buyret

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on August 4, 2012 by Scot

Nestled between Snake Road and Waits River
in Vermont’s Green Mountains,
the Land of Beulah Cemetery whispers:

Mary Jane
Infant Daughter  1851

I am ready for rest

The pains of death are past,
warfare is closed at last

Peaceful slumbers my child

The harvest is done
The reaper is sleeping

Marjorie and John
Mother and Infant Son   1843

What child is this that laid to rest

She did the best she could

Loved ones have crossed the river

A man that twice was hushed by death
Rests silently in this grave

For this child I prayed

Parted Below
United Above

The empty hum… of broken connections.

Without You by Arlin Buyert

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on June 10, 2012 by Scot

The campus visits started two years ago.
Like a bluebird checking out her nesting sites,
she narrows it down to four.
Finally, “We are pleased to inform you.”
The packing starts in July,
a tearful goodbye hug for Sadie our dog
and we are off.

A “Welcome Home” banner greets us at the campus gate.
Where to park, Dayton Hall,
we carry boxes and suitcases
to her third floor nest.

Parent Tour:  Library, Fine Arts Center, Old Main, Stadium.
Parent Orientation:  Let them adjust…without you.
Parent Lunch: Pasta, salad and tea.

Not hungry, not thirsty.

Barn on the Iowa Prairie by Arlin Buyert

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on May 12, 2012 by Scot

She was at the heart:
rock foundation,
skeletal oak beams punctuated with wood pegs,
the warm and moist cream room,
hay mow on the second floor,
high hip roof with wood shingles,
faded red paint with white trim,
crowned with a galvanized cupola
that we could see for miles.

She held stories like a dusty scrapbook
about pigeons, snakes and mice,
the neighbor girl’s kiss,
Dad’s dark December doubt,
sifting snow through the cracks,
calves born and nursed, cows milked by hand,
kittens nestled in the manger,
prayer with Mom when Grandpa died,
horror when our bull killed my uncle
in a stall that was never again.

Now she is dirt
and I hear the nearby brook murmur
like wine into a chalice.

Out of Gas by Arlin Buyert

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on January 22, 2012 by Scot


The door to the old cabin’s musty garage
creaks open and in the early light,
a faded twin hull Bayliner perched

on concrete blocks and
enmeshed with silky webs
sighs a stranded note in a minor key

about waves and water skis, Grandpa
Holm’s fishing pole, Adolph’s tackle box,
Fourth of July, excited children

and blue vinyl seats
cracked wide open, exposing
a dusty refrain of yellow foam rubber.