An Open Heart Farming collection, compiled by Mary Ellen Sullivan.
Select the author’s name to see other works by that author, when the poem first appeared, and a biography, if supplied.
All Praise the Humble Potato
Poem by Jenni Blackmore
Place them gently in each drill
sprinkle lettuce light and similarly cover
not too deep, not too close. . .
but sparse is what the rows seem now
too distant and forlorn
on this grey soggy day of boot-stick earth
yet soon enough the seedlings, sprouted
nudge and jostled, vie for space
within the rows transformed
a cramped metropolis of leaf and bud
alive with slugs and bugs voracious
Lay hair-thin leeks in trenches primed
rich with humus and dreams of distant soup
pot shared by white earth-eggs
already creeping their first fingers
from the wizened skin of kin
snugged warm under an eelgrass quilt
which will in time reveal a bounty
harvested with no complaints
in this less fertile corner of the plot
where tomatoes stubbornly refuse
zucchinis dither and onions sulk in limbo
but where potatoes, never loved or lauded
half as much as they deserve
silent and in secret, prodigiously produce
Little Accomplishments: A Western Fable
Poem by Normand Carrey
In rotunda of university portraits stand, CEOs
proffering cheques eclipsing acts that pass by-
unnoticed. Hello I am Jin Lee-came to Canada
with son to join father, who left us with no support.
I work in chemistry practicing poverty level pay.
Come, let’s frolic in Coulees, and run mad like
Quentin Heavy Head. She told about 7500 year
cliff-museum, nearby Blood Nation echoed
Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump. A brave fallen,
body crushed by tumbling buffalo. She invited us-
tea in her apartment. Eric played computer game
awkward laugh made her smile vicarious, but her
face showed stain of years, unpaid domestic work
underground charity. Despite fragrance of frugality,
her canonical devotion left him wanting for nothing.
She was a little woman with a guerilla of a laugh.
Busying herself, she offered pepper-seeded pappadum
and flatbread injected with pressed mint leaves
from her garden, spice and sacrifice leavened in steam
water of farmer’s market carrots, celery and bok choi.
While tea steeped in its bergamot aroma, she served
a genial feast, years flowing in a liturgy of necessity
the tea, her contagious guerilla laugh, making us giddy.
We wanted to leave gifts; tokens, small appreciations.
Pressing maple syrup bottle into her hand she grinned
like a portrait in a rotunda. Next morning we opened
door to find a bag full of dew, fresh cut mint leaves
and the economy of nourishment.
Poem by Ron Gillis
North Sydney, NS
My field sleeps in Winter, beneath a blanket of snow,
Patiently awaiting, in Spring to be sowed,
Crop bursting to fullness, in warm Summer sun,
Untethered in Autumn, my harvest is done.
Poem by Audrey Currie Greenhalgh
Last night I dreamed of blueberry meadows,
Strawberry fields and dandelion wine.
Fruit trees abounded with peaches and apples,
Figs and dates and grapes on the vine.
I saw colorful wildflowers and sweet summer grasses,
The birds in the tree tops were singing my name.
As I stood gazing, a cool breeze caressed me
Lifting my spirit to a new higher plane.
The clouds in the blue sky lazily drifted
As I was watching in silent repose,
I saw tulips and lilacs and bright yellow daisies,
Beside the small stream, I plucked a wild rose.
Suddenly awakened from dreamy sweet slumber,
I wept as the heavenly scenes faded by,
Then to my wonder, right there in my bedroom,
Wildflowers and fruit and dandelion wine.
My Mothers Garden
Poem by Emily Krass
A garden full of
Mysteries and surprises,
A place my mother
Can enjoy leisure
And be creative
Carrots, orange and green
Growing under dirt
Sprouting on bean fences
Cabbage, green and purple
Looking like miniature pumpkins
Lettuce looking fresh
And ready to eat
And near the vegetables
Sit tulips, roses and daffodils
My mother’s garden,
A place full of effort and hard work,
Controlled by nature and weather
And full of riches worth more than money
Poem by Sandra Phinney
Where, oh where
do they come from
Wasn’t it just
and all the springs before
that we diligently
back wrenching effort
lugged and hauled
hauled and lugged
to sweep the fields
clean of this plague.
Does earth’s belly
belch them out each spring
or do they simply migrate
in the dead of winter
drawn and directed
by the Grand Master’s hand
to scrape the knuckles
of our souls?
Wall of Hope
Poem by Elzy Taramangalam
A wall of climbing hops
Behind my house!
Stringing the hops
Has a nice ring to it.
The bitter cousin of grapes
Gives aroma to beer
Gets high on poles
Goes up and down in value that is
And are tough survivors
For dry moral lessons
As in timeless fables
Don’t let yourself down
We have a hotline to heaven
A hawser to anchor all hopes.
Poem by Joan Young
Peas, carrots, turnips and greens
Potatoes, beans and tomatoes too
Don’t forget the beets, cucumbers
and other vegetable seeds
Planted, hoed and cleared of weeds.
They grow in rows of beauty
Red, green and yellow
and shades in between
Planted late in May
and hope for sun everyday.
Watered by summer showers
Kissed by the sun
The bounty of my garden
It’s a gardeners delight
What a wonderful sight.
Poem by Janette Fecteau
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.
Poem by Ron Gillis
North Sydney NS
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
A Farmer’s Farewell
Poem by Audrey Currie Greenhalgh
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.
Oh Compost Heap!
Poem by Sylvia Mangalam
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
Poem by Georgia Atkin
“Just an apple”? You say it’s JUST an apple?
Well, I’m afraid I must disagree,
deviate from this rather bland definition,
before this apple arrived in the bin
at the market…
…it began as a seed within the soil,
fed by the pouring rain and effervescent sun,
encouraged by wild bees
and slowly, ever so slowly,
a tree came into existance,
reaching upwards for the sky it felt nearby,
miniature flowers on its branches
gradually transforming into something more:
an object full of sweetness
which grew larger and larger
until at last
a hand plucked it off the branch
and carried it away,
and that apple (for that is what it was)
travelled for miles beneath the sky
and the stars, a journey to a strange future,
it came to rest
in your hand.
I Am Seed
Poem by Anthony Arsenault
Buried in the earth, I am seed
The sun is out there, I can feel it
My roots gather moisture, giving strength
My head emerges, I need to stretch
the outside world, I want to see
To its limits, I push the earth
unrelenting I struggle, I must endure
Reaching out, there must be light soon
The earth is broken, I’ve made it
The Sun welcomes me, a warm embrace
My arms open, I take her warming heat
Now I grow, to nourish others
Adam’s Peas and Carrots
Poem by Leslie Anne Bateman
New Glasgow, NS
Adam, it won’t be long now
Until you plant your peas and carrots
In the cool, damp earth
That clings to your fingers,
As you shape the soil with your gentle hands.
The sun kisses your cheeks,
And your freckled smile warms the space
Where you place your seeds,
One by one;
Then, you tuck them in,
With the hope of spring’s awakening.
And then I watch you, just as you watch
The canvas of our little garden
Come to life with fragrant sprouts,
And humming bees, and busy ants;
You quench your thirsty seeds, and make room
For them to take their place in the world.
In the stillness of the summer afternoon,
You marvel at the ringlet tendrils
Clinging to the frame you built with daddy’s help,
And run your hand over feathers of new born green;
The delight of the harvest, now a distant dream,
Will be here and gone before the next moon comes.
But for tonight, as you go to bed,
With snow still outside your frosty window,
For you will soon be under summer skies,
Tending your peas and carrots.
Tom and Ted’s Baking Adventure
Poem by Adam Christopher Bateman
Let’s make some bread,
Said Tom to Ted.
Could Ned come along?
Said Ted to Tom.
But Ned doesn’t make bread…
He’d rather eat it instead!
So let’s get started,
And be open-hearted.
First we need flour,
And to mix it with power.
Our next assault,
Will be with sugar and salt.
Some oil and water,
Warm, and no hotter!
And last but not least,
We have to add yeast.
You have to be a pro,
To knead the dough.
And form it into shape,
But don’t let it escape!
Then wait for it to cook…
You could read a poetry book!
Can I bake some bread?
Said Ned to Tom and Ted.
Diamante Poem by Leslie Anne Bateman
Unyielding, thirsting, waiting
Canvas, vision . . . determination, life
Growing, giving, sustaining
Poem by Heidi Kalyani
I feel emboldened
by the astonishing courage of plants
as they poke their tiny green heads
above the soil
Is it faith,
that allows them to burst forth
with such boldness?
It seems a mad disregard for safety,
and a deep embracing of vulnerability,
to come into a Northern spring
tender, naked and green
Haiku by Harry Garrison
Beside the river,
grows from charity.