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Friday, June 04, 2021


by Barbara Parchim

In 1964, a Vermont farmer burned himself and his farm, rather than surrender his land. Photo: Romaine Tenney on his farm. Credit: Weathersfield Historical Society via The New York Times, May 27, 2021

eminent domain:
the Jack-in-the-box surprise
when you discover
what you thought was yours
never was
no matter the 64 years
born and raised on this fertile soil
working the farm, living off the grid
with some draft horses
a herd of dairy cows and a couple of dogs—
the only life you’ve known
what remains to be done
when they come to pile
your belongings out in the dusty road?
loose the horses and cows to the field
torch the barns
then return to the house,
send the dogs outside,
nail the doors shut and set it afire
eminent domain:
when men sitting at a boardroom table
decide what will become of a man’s life—
take away home and livelihood
in a gesture as simple
as signing a document
and then wonder why
the final chapter ends
with a gun and a pile of bones
in the cellar of a burnt-out house
a hill country farm
lies buried beneath the interstate—
the maple that bore witness 57 years ago,
cut down this week as a hazard tree,
a memorial made from the wood
may be erected in this spot,
where parking lot
meets what was once called home

Barbara Parchim lives on a small farm in southwest Oregon. She enjoys gardening and wilderness hiking and volunteered for several years at a wildlife rehabilitation facility caring for raptors and wolves. Her poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Ariel Chart, Jefferson Journal, Isacoustic, Turtle Island Quarterly, Windfall, Allegro Poetry, Trouvaille Review, Front Porch Review, and others.   Her first book has been selected by Flowstone Press to appear in 2021.