Illinois Farmers

Michael Lee Johnson

Illinois writer in the land of Lincoln

new harvest without words
plenty of sugar pie plum, peach cobbler pie,

buried in grandma sugar;

factory sweets and low flowing river nearby—
transports of soy bean, corn, and cattle feed

into the wide bass mouth of the Kishwakee River.

It is the moment of reunion,

when friends and economy come together—
hotdogs, marshmallows, tents scattered,

playing kick ball with that black farm dog.

It’s a simple act, a farmer gone blind with the night pink sky,
desolate farmer, simple flat land, DeKalb, Illinois.

Betsy and Phil invite us all to the camp and fireside.

But Phil is still in the field, pushing sunset to dusk.

He is raking dry the farm soil of salvation, moisture has its own 
          religious quirks,
dead seed from weed hurls up to the metal lips of the cultivator 
The full moon is undressing, pink fluorescent hints of blue, 
          pajamas, turned
inward near midnight sky against the moon now fully naked 
          and embarrassed.

Hayrides for strangers go down dark squared-off roads with lights 
          hanging, dangling,
children humming school tunes, long farmhouse lights lost in the 
          near distance.
Humming till dawn Christian songs repeat over God’s earth.

Dead go the sounds of the tractor, with the twist of a switch off,
down to the dusk and off the road’s edge.

It is the moment of reunion.

Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer in Itasca, Illinois. He lived in Canada during the Vietnam era for 10 years. His new, illustrated poetry chapbook—From Which Place the Morning Rises—and The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom are available at Published in 22 countries, he is the editor/publisher of four poetry sites. Visit him at