At the Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Man

The frizzled farmer pushing the pulling, tired draft horse,
his jeans ballooning like pantaloons pinched into rubber boots
sunk and stuck like squash in the shallow fall mud,
his arms swollen loofahs lifting pumpkins up to the children
riding on sweet smelling, dry hay bales in the wagon,
has a “Head like a prize pumpkin,” as Joyce’s Bloom thought
of Tom Wall’s son, and Tom, the frazzled farmer,
declaring this his last pumpkin patch harvest,
prods the horse (whose name is Wally) and wagon to a stop.

The pumpkin picking party hops to the ground and disperses,
and the children caper around the pumpkin field,
Papas and Mamas and Nanas snapping photos orange and blue,
until the farmer calls the pumpkin pickers back to the wagon.

The farmer is a frayed man, his wife explains to a group
waiting patiently at the scales, fretting this pumpkin crop falls sparse,
but that’s just his way, and anyhow, who can talk at a time like this,
all these potential faces, all fat orange cheek puffed, twist handled hair,
heads picked and packed, jugs full of orange pie mash and seeds?

Out in the pumpkin patch, empty faces pass into ooze,
a few pumpkin seeds carried up by blackbirds
and dropped in the next field over, that fallow acre
empty of people picking and parsing
for the right ripe pumpkin, the perfect possible
face, in bed of wet gray hair, muted mouth,
flute feature deadpan face.
A field of plump birds erupts in applause
as a curtain of spitting rain starts to fall.


  1. A pleasure to read aloud.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Ah! And the true test. Thanks, Ashen!

  2. Babs says:

    I was there! that is how vivid that writing was. Thanks, Autumn is the greatest. Some sad news, Tom’s tree that he and Tyler picked out and planted fell down during our wind storm. Took it right off the roots. No hope of regrowth. Write a poem about that!!

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Bummer about the tree. Ok…Barstow poem next up.

      1. Babs says:

        cool, can’t wait to see it!

        1. Joe Linker says:

          Will keep you posted.

  3. Dan Hennessy says:

    Hey , where’s your LIKE button ?

    1. Joe Linker says:

      I keep things like that hidden?

  4. Lisa Groves says:

    Wonderful poem. Right up Ted Kooser’s alley, man! I think he would publish it here:

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Yep, Ted’s one of me men, you know. Spent a career with Lincoln Life Insurance (also see Wallace Stevens – Hartford Life; and Franz Kafka – Bohemia Worker’s Accident, where he suggested the Hard Hat). Someone should invent a hard hat for poetry. Actually, poetry, as you know, requires removal of the hard hat. If the reader must read with a hard hat, maybe the poem’s no good. How’s that for a theory of poetics? Nice to hear from you. Trust all’s well. Any sightings of you know who lately? Or anyone else, for that matter? Send me your mailing address again, and I’ll send you something cool for your desktop. xxx’s & ooo’s. ooh! The Looshex Nonster.

      1. Lisa Groves says:

        Google results for Looshex Nonster: zero. Leo Zeppelin Ketchem due for sighting March 10th! All’s good. See Em’s FB for recent photos of the expectant couple and the gender reveal sonogram (that was AWESOME!) It’s all too…unreal. Hard Hat for Poetry may be useful when reading critical reviews of one’s work. Love you, tooxx.

        1. Joe Linker says:

          Yes, have been well advised re the coming of the Lion king!

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Hey, thanks for reading and comment!

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