Literary Yard

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‘Manifesto’ and other poems by Ian McFarland

By: Ian McFarland


To domesticate the ant
and invite the earthworm out to dinner.
To return the cartel’s contraband,
“smoke dope, get high” I will say.
To end embargos
and bring the democrat to a red state
and bring the conservative to a blue body of water.
To pluck plastic from the ocean
and investigate the movement of the whales,
tag dorsal fins on sharks
and swim in the river Ganges.
To revitalize the southern hemisphere
and socialize the west.
To smear dirt on pages, mud on walls,
sand in sleeping bags.
These are my promises, these are my demands.


Be Mindful of the Small Stones

Come lie down with me
in the soft fields of green or gold
and I will tell you things that I have wondered.

Or run with me
through knee high husks
on the fourth of the seventh month.

Or climb with me the pine wood
like we did as children and fasten all doubt
to the limbs with pitch the tree provides.

Come anyone, everyone.
That we might be alone together, come!
All you trapped in the claustrophobic city,

collapse the temple,
pack it up!
In knapsacks or in picnic baskets.

Untie your shoes and
Take them off.
I have found no surer way to walk about.


An Early Morning Adventure

Sister scout traipses off down the block
before anyone else in the house is up.

With her knapsack and her wild maize hair
she traipses off down to the turn,

down to the corner where Calvin Avenue
turns to Fisk Street.

She uses the language of her legs,
her newly acquired freedom of expression

with no slight confidence.
Until she returns we wonder.

But she does return, an intrepid explorer,
yellow hair on fire with the dawn.


Parlor Tricks

We watch each other watch things,
that’s all we ever do.
Then wonder at our own amazement
mirrored back to us. The toddler
who does not yet know that objects are permanent,
delights every time the big red rubber ball
is rolled back into being
from behind the leather couch.
He claps his hands and rocks back and forth
in those cow-jumped-over-the-moon pajamas.


Goddess of the Storm

Mother transcribes recipes from the pea-green cookbook
onto index cards with help from father’s headlamp-spotlight
that cuts through construction dust like fog,
it cuts through dusk that settles like a fog
on the black rocks of a dead sea that glint like flint
wetted by a blanket of mist as the storm touches down
just south of Tuscaloosa. Father is the lighthouse
and mother is inside with a gun to the temple
of the storm with the fog, and the rain, and the mist,
and she laughs as she writes with her off-hand
the last ingredients to Death-By-Chocolate.


I want this poem to keep going

I want it to never stop going, and going, and going,
to never run out of gas and when it does
to leave footprints on the trails and highways,
and trace ephemeral desert streams
under the watchful eye of the crescent moon.

I want it to breathe on its own
the air that I have breathed
more deeply and attentively
than I will ever breathe it.
I want it to make friends

and to keep them,
to run rough-shod
over convention,
bow to tradition,
then run rough-shod over that too.

I want it to want, and to feel
and to make something for itself
in this life that can be at times so difficult,
every bit the iron fist.
I want it to say “I love you” first.

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