Vol. 1, No. 1, ISSN 2369-2944
Poetry Harvester: Mary Ellen Sullivan
Editor: Donal Power
Open Heart Farming’s first edition launched at farmers markets all across NS in May 2012.
Roxanne Beavers – To Vandana Shiva
Meredith (Ma) Bell – While Jamming
Ed Belzer – Suddenly
Sandra Barry – Bees and Blossoms
Dianne Crowell – Spring Heat
Laura De Palma – a delicious mess.
Maria Duynisveld – Summer Haze
Joy Farrell-Grove – planting with grandpa
Janette Fecteau – Carrot Pull
Ron Gillis – The Seed
Audrey Greenhalgh – A Farmer’s Farewell
Sylvia Mangalam – Oh Compost Heap!
Mike McFetridge – Food
Jaywant (Joe) Patil – Miracle
Felix L. Perry – Home Grown Sadness
Anna Quon – Chicken
Norm Sabowitz – Macbeth’s Speech
Ali Squire – To a Tater
Mary Ellen Sullivan – Life is a Bowl of Cherries
Elzy Taramangalam – The Spirit of Life
seed saving guru
global ecofem’nist power
monsanto fears her
of what shape
is it like a childish drawing of an egg
or round and evenly divided into sections
like an orange
an infinite line
or a series of them disjointed
and what colour
life takes time, not years
juicy sections enveloping years
or flavours fleeting in seconds
like kaleidoscopic patterns
crayon them lusciously but
heed not to colour within the lines
The team is fresh and stepping along,
And the Cockshutt Giant cuts its five-foot swath.
But progress is slow.
Despite mower, mares, and me
The stand withstands
And the day grows short.
Then, suddenly, the end is in sight
And–it happens every time–
The stand falls with surprising speed.
It is finished.
Like the early rounds of a hayland
The seasons of youth were long.
Now time hastens
But still I cannot see the end.
When I do
How can I fail to be astonished
At how quickly it is finished?
In the news, reports of
the mysterious disappearance of
honey bees. Scientists speculate
the cause, but the puzzle
is unsolved. Bees are vanishing.
Our food is connected
to their imperatives.
Statistics address only limits.
Bees feed the world, and the soul.
Our art is connected
to their existence.
Bees are the reason flowers burst
abundance. Bees and blossoms,
beauty for no reason but honey.
Pollen, a language.
The way to survive cold barren winter
is to carry the translucence of petals
into the comb of the mind.
Think deeply of sleep and summer.
Is this collapse of essence
an aberration or an omen?
Are we in the flux or at the edge?
Bees tell us old stories
in their frenetic dances,
in their hum of hunger.
Our expressions mimic bees’ desire.
If bees disappear, flowers will soon follow,
and our voices will go silent.
Spring is here
And everyday I await my time with you
When the flurry of morning has met
with the afternoon demands of tomorrow
I enter you
Your scent envelops me
Thick, rich, sweet
Simmering with heat
I am quickly drenched
and release comes to the throbbing aches
I’ve held within for most of the day
I am not possessive
Nor would I be jealous
You are almost, almost, almost
Too much for me to handle
But I believe every woman
Deserves her very own greenhouse!
within the confines of a tinfoil case,
mounds of fries sink in pools of gravy
with scattered cheese curds that interlace
the chaos combining endlessly.
opaque shades of yellow and brown
gleam with a thick gloss
of meat juices that drown
the blend of dairy and sauce.
overtaking the edges of the tin
it spills and collects in pools
much to the container’s chagrin,
it ignores incompetent rules
poutine in a takeout container, a mess
of colours and textures mixed in excess.
The clover softly brushes my feet
Beside me runs my dog
And in the fields, some bleating sheep
Behind me croaks a lonely frog.
In my hand, a bucket swings
Heavy, full of grain
It will feed the many sheep
Who live across the lane.
Back in the barn, the red pig squeals
That greedy, funny sow
She must’ve found some table scraps
And is eating them right now.
This is the life, our little farm
Where we lose track of days
Where green grass grows and a small brook sings
In this lovely summer haze.
work flattened fingers
lay out a bag of soil
and a terracotta pot.
nails beckon for the stain of dirt
and pull of roots.
i wriggle my fingers in next to his,
and the soil splits less willingly
against childish strength.
it owes years of service to fall into line
against the giant of the fields.
he pats the soil
and seals life.
he will measure the growth
against my own
while the next generation
tills the soil
John Alec Dan and Hughie “The Bird”
pull carrots in October,
a contest in which size does matter.
It’s about who grew the longest one,
not necessarily the fattest
All summer, banter about tricks
for cultivation, accidental meetings
in the pharmacy: I seen you buying them
men’s pills. I know about your green manure.
Under neon leaves these friends, serious,
stand in each other’s damp gardens.
The grower chooses.
Bends over, pulls it out. It comes,
ripping earth, emerges dirty, ruddy and moist,
lies thick and hard on his palm.
That’s not less than 12 inches
Hughie will say with stiff admiration.
Well yours is not exactly short
John Alec (smothering a grin) will reply,
politely, of Hughie’s ten-incher.
Neither is married. No wife to wonder
at the length, ask how the heck
she’ll cut it down to size.
Some people rise to the occasion,
Others fall to depths of despair,
But I’ll just keep trudging along,
Determined to make my mark with a flair.
First I need an idea,
Plant in my mind a seed
Cultivate with tender care,
Seasons end crop do see.
Crop of hope and humility,
Crop of unselfishness,
Crop of aspirations,
Leading to road of success
The years begin to fade and dim,
Sorrows now long past.
’Tis only laughter that I hear
And your sweet voice at last.
As you call me to that far off land
Where days are filled with bliss,
I long to join you, hand in hand,
Yet, oh, what I shall miss.
The bursting sun upon the morn
Ah, the glory of that sight,
And glinting wheat fields stretching
Ever onward in their might.
The clacking of the thresher,
Faithful “Sport” not far behind,
The sudden screeching of the gulls
All race to fill my mind.
I’ve earned my rest at the end of the day,
Scrubbed the dust from my burning feet,
While the birds of the air and the cattle
Have long been fast asleep.
Now alone I sit in the fading light
Of wondrous days gone by
And think of you my darling
In the churchyard where you lie.
Farewell, farewell to those happy years,
To their memory I’ll be true,
In that far off land, hand in hand,
I’ll live them again with you.
I can make a forest, I can, I can.
Out of the builder’s waste
Which is the back yard land.
All green and trembling
In the morning dew
With rustling leaves,
And darkling shadows
All shot through.
And not so far
You have to take off in
The greasy, gassy car.
Just give me time
I can make haste
Tall standing corn
And climbing beans
From black earth sprung
Entwine to make
For slugs and snakes
“Where does this food come from?”, asked the little boy one day;
His mother smiled, thought for awhile, then said, “Now it’s O.K.,
We get our food from the food store, you know, it’s down the street;
And there we find food of all kinds that we all love to eat”.
The little boy grew to a man, but never left the city;
By now he knew where food came from, but thought it not too pretty;
That his vegetables grew from a chemical cocktail put in the land;
Not by Mother Nature, but by a greedy man.
And the chicken, beef, pork, even fish, that he once loved to eat;
Were not produced at the food store, the one just down the street;
But mass produced at factory farms, a cruel and gruesome thought;
How man could reek such havoc from what Mother Nature wrought.
But we don’t have to live that way here in HRM;
We have the knowledge, talent, the people, and we have the land;
The Musquodoboit Valley, once a place of food galore,
Could be a source of local food, fresh grown and naturally pure.
Instead of giving money to attract more corporate greed;
Invest in Nova Scotians, we are a hardy breed;
We live here, we love here, we work here, ’cause we are here to stay;
We won’t just take the money and run ’cause we’re not ‘from away’.
A seed planted in spring.
Sprouts grows through summer.
Harvested in fall.
He stares at the sunset across the fields
In coveralls and ball cap big as life
Tonight will be the very last time
Wishes he were with his departed wife
Smiles remembering she loved the spectrum
Of their sunset’s oranges, reds and pink
Though he knows it will all be gone soon
Just like life…a mere eyelash blink
Over mortgaged patch of dirt and weeds
But it helped raise his family of nine
Along with his price…the aches and pain
That left him almost crippled over time
His once red hair is now thin and greying
Like the clapboard siding on barn and house
The kids are all grown up and moved away
At night the place is quiet…quiet as a mouse
His old John Deere’s another rusted memory
The banker said they had to call his loan
Dear Agnes rests in the shadow of St. Anne’s
……………….they’d take him to the senior’s home
He bends to picks up a clump of earth
Crumples it slowly in his arthritic hand
In his mind drives the cow’s home one last time
Hums…O’Canada our home and native land.
For a cold, boil a chicken
with onions, ginger and garlic.
Sip slowly. Breathe in, breathe out.
That chicken ran free in a shed
with a thousand sisters,
kept her head to the bloody end,
succumbed not to illness
but to the knife.
She never knew she’d heal the sick
and feed the hungry.
She always thought she’d be a mother,
sit dutifully on a nest full of egg
but she was luckier than that.
Those hens, those ones
in the concentration camp
cages, ended up tough and
only fit for the stew.
Better to die young and supple
for a noble cause.
Better to run and scratch and cluck
til they came for you,
hung you upside down
and parted your dreams
from your wildly beating
Tomato and tomato and tomato
Creams in this pudding paste
From date to date
T’the glazed cinnamon of reCurried thyme.
Bland oil our best soufflés
Halvah dieted poules
The whey to crusty bread.
Oat! Oat! beef cayenne-dill!
Chives butter malting shallot,
A pear papaya that nuts and fruits hi’sour
Upon the sage,
And venison’s stirred no moorhen.
It is ox-tail salt by an EATiot:
Food of pound and puree
Wee white and gleaming new-spud cluster,
Unearthed by my fork in turning fluster,
You needn’t blink your baby eyes at me with fearful dread,
Now that you’re found, I’ll leave intact your cosy bed.
We both may wonder at the karmic chance,
The fateful course of happenstance,
When all I did with winter’s peelings, was toss them out,
Not thinking that your own wee self would start to sprout.
Aye, little spud, don’t fuss nor fret,
I’ll not disturb your peace just yet,
You needn’t think your best laid plans have gone astray,
For here, no beetle, bug, nor blight will spoil your day.
Like a cheeky cookoo in my pile,
I’ll let you rest and stay awhile,
Your growing tubers covered o’er with compost warm,
No pesticides nor chemicals to do you harm.
You’ll not regret your lowly dwelling,
Nor all the scents that you are smelling,
For in this warm and wormy heap you’ll feed and flourish,
And all my yummy kitchen waste your life will nourish.
Och! baby tattie! You just go on living
‘Til that great feast we call Thanksgiving,
Then, I will praise you greatly as we’re eating,
And bless my compost pile for our chance meeting.
You’re the apple of my eye.
You’re the plum in my Christmas pie.
You’re peach fuzz to my cheek.
So sweet, my little baby, sleep.
Green and spunky
Lean and funky
The shoot climbed
An upside down leg
With a deep soul knowing.
Up the spike the tendril wound
Through a dark tunnel
Speckled with four bright spots
Then straight for the sun
Evoking every pulse points.
No choppy Vincent or pointy Pablo
No tranquil Monet or turbulent
This perfervid bean reaching the sky
Thrives in the passage under
A toppled lab stool.
A silken sash on a sleek recorder
Puffed up by the promise of each day
Whistling a tune endued with joy
Dreaming of life’s grandeur.