“The Farm”

“The Farm’
© 2021 by Michael L. Utley

Nighthawks scream
With evening’s descent
They know the truth
Black god’s-eyes
See everything
From salmon-hued
As wings fold
Bird-bombs dive
Preying on the
A mindless alien-avian
Turn back
There is no hope here

Across the fallow field
Elk bugle mournfully in
Twilight cacophony
A hundred dim smudges
Herding in
Paranoid precision
Against the dusty dun of
Evening’s solemn soliloquy
Amidst dusk ground-mist
Trumpet-cries betray blind fear
A prose of unearthly moans
As pinyon-sage-scented breeze
Lifts this omen skyward
Turn back
There is no hope here

Dead-yellow foxtails
And cheatgrass
As I pass
A sickly meadow of
Thin-boned weeds
And cloying sage
Crackling underfoot as
Stickers pin-cushion
Socks and shoelaces
Ground beetles
And spiders flee
Dissolve into
Cracked earth
Each footstep
The shrill trill of crickets
They know, too
Turn back, they sing
There is no hope here

A skeleton crew of
Haggard, stunted trees
Stands sentinel
Against the coming darkness
Pinyons felled by
Insidious Ips beetles
Sap-dried cones
Long dead
Among carpets of
Desiccated yellowed needles and
Sparrow-emptied pine nut shells
Tinder awaiting a wildfire
Fragrant junipers stand
Amidst dead-berry piles in
Shaggy bark-suits
Peeling like scorched dusty
Sun-burnt skin
Swarming with black ants
Pungent piss-scent
Overwhelming as
Paper-bark crawls
In the shadows
The subliminal hiss of an
Errant breeze
Wheezes dark portents
Among barkless boughs
Turn back
There is no hope here

Muffled yips and
Strangled howls
Ride chilly currents from
Far obscure fields
As coyotes practice
Weird secret sorcery
In the gloaming
The cries of the damned
Of pain
Of madness
Of red-eyed tricksters
In shadow-garb
Preparing for midnight hunts
And the tearing of flesh
Yellow grins reeking of
Fear and dead meat
Champ and drool as
Festivities draw near
Their primal chaos-chorus
Announcing to all
Turn back
There is no hope here

In hushed
Sepulchral silence
Muted coos of
Mourning doves
Float softly in
Penitential pleas
Stillness magnifying
Lilting lamentation
Grief too much to bear
Their sorrow-song
An ache that
Never ends
Rends hearts
Cleaves souls
Tears flow
Purity and
Immeasurable loss
A calming balm
Inadequate to heal
All that ails
Ineffectual against
Forces of fear
Reduced to a
Whispered admonition
Turn back
There is no hope here

The broken garden gate
Aslant on rusted hinges
Unleveling the horizon
Of faded, ephemeral corn stalks
And rotting squash-husks
A tangle of ancient weeds
And briar bushes
Encases this bleak place
Age-drained of all
Color and scent
Poisonous soil
Long since emptied of life
Only dead things grow here
Rows of sorrow
Trellises of despair
A forlorn bounty of
Loss and regret
A stilled silence
Turn back
There is no hope here

The house
A gray thing
Hunched against
The gloom of
Bruise-tinted sky
Like some
Feral beast
Skull-socket eyes
Through diseased elms
As cement tongue lolls
Cracked and pitted
From front door
To yard gate
Lawn only a distant memory
Littered with
Shattered window glass
And random roof shingles



It’s been years
Since I was here
Since I fled
Since that day
The monster was real then
The fear was real
And it’s been with me
All the while

Concrete dust crunches
Bone-like underfoot
I reach the front door
Push through a
Latticework of spider-silk
Filled with memories
So many memories
Dust and the scent of
Ancient mildew
Rotting wood
Hang in mote-filled air
It’s smaller now
Ceiling plaster
Coats rotting carpet
In a patina of snow
Water-stained drywall
Bent and bulging
My room is there
Dark and cobwebby
Sisters’ bedroom
Parents’ room
Everything accounted for
Except the monster

There is no hope here
Dead monsters leave
Memory echoes
Down the years
A legacy of pain and fear
And while there is
No monster here
Neither is there reason
For rejoicing
This place is dead
Just like my father
The monster
Nothing will ever be
As it was
So much lost
Still more buried in
Dark locked crates
In my mind
I look around
One final time
Then make my way
Out the door
And into the night

It’s time to leave
The farm behind

6 thoughts on ““The Farm”

    1. Thanks so much. This was a difficult piece to write because the subject matter was painful. I wanted to really set the mood. In reality, the old family farm is much the same as it was the day I fled, but in my mind, it changed irrevocably that day and became something entirely different. I haven’t been back there for years and have no desire to return. Some things are best left in the past. I appreciate your kind comments and thank you so much for reading. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Trauma is a terrible thing. I think it’s great that you write about it… hopefully other people suffering similar trauma will feel less alone and maybe connect with you. But also, I hope it’s therapeutic for you. This past 12 months I have written a lot about cancer, fear and grief. I see writing as a way of digesting difficult stuff. But sometimes it’s too hard.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I definitely agree with you. I write dark material sometimes to find a way to lance the wounds, to impose order on the chaos, to form those old memories into concrete shapes so I can handle them properly and safely. It’s incredibly therapeutic, and I honestly do hope it connects somehow with people who may have experienced similar trauma (or any type of trauma). I consider it a valuable therapy tool (as does my counselor). I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been dealing with heavy themes, too. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do if I weren’t able to write about some of this stuff, you know? You’re right–sometimes it’s just too painful to articulate. It’s a process and it takes time. I’m in my eleventh year of therapy and still trying to forge ahead. Writing helps (a lot). I hope the words are always there for you. Thanks so much for lending an understanding ear. One thing I’ve come to know about the WordPress community is there are some amazing people here who are so openly encouraging and compassionate. Thanks for being a part of that wonderful group. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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