"Glastoberry, Mud, Mysticism, Mayhem, and Memorable Performances Over the Years," Paul Townsend / flickr


poem | 8.17.17


by Judith Roney


Seven wide-eyed young ones who never heard of Abbey Hoffman, or considered suggesting levitating the pentagon till it turned orange and vibrated, stood in front of the old dude known as the Cosmic Farmer and begged an answer: Why haven’t the birds returned? In his slow, easy-turning way of twisting at the torso, and speaking from the corner of his mouth, the Cosmic Farmer asked them if they’d ever sat down when they were told to stand, or if they had ever walked south when city-folk marched north? The youth were astounded—confused. A bold ex-soldier with a prosthetic arm requested insistently (a spark of hope here) the Cosmic Farmer answer the question: Why the birds had not returned? C.M., wiry but arthritic from decades of working the soil, picked up his hand-plow, leaned in, and pushed through a patch of heavy clay. The youth, in desperation, followed the Cosmic Farmer. They searched his battered shoulders and his clay-covered Red Wing boots for clues. They thought they had nowhere else to go until the sun went down once again on a bird-less land. But blue-speckled hopes rose as the seven each picked up a shovel (yes, there were seven shovels propped against a pine tree) made an impermeable decision to follow C.M., past the turpentine still, and the nest-less woods, until the speeches that blasted away herons, mockingbirds, and blue jays swallowed their own tongues.


Judith Roney’s fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications. Field Guide for a Human was a 2015 finalist in the Gambling the Aisle chapbook contest. Her poetry collection, According to the Gospel of Haunted Women, received the 2015 Pioneer Prize. When not obsessing over the archaic and misunderstood, dead relatives, vintage religious artifacts and creepy dolls, she teaches creative writing at the University of Central Florida, and is a staff poetry reader for The Florida Review.


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