Illinois Farm Auction

Across the yard, a scattered life,
Pieces and parts, rusty tools,
Domestic charms, tractor chains,
Surrounding a barn in disrepair.

Farmers come to find a bargain,
Dealers seek antiques for profit,
Trucks and trailers parked behind
And lining the country road of corn,
A sea of green with tasseled heads.

Two auctioneers move down the line
Of years of progress, piled on flatbeds:
Ancient poultry magazines,
A cover of O.J. in his prime;
A photogenic JFK in Life
(November, Nineteen-Sixty-Three),
Dull shovels with loose handles,
Ceramic owl and resting cat,
Empty seed sacks from ’47,
A leather purse from the Roaring Twenties.

Back to back, the voices bark,
Spilling prices, urging bids,
Upraised hands, nods and shakes,
Accomplished buyers showing their tags,
Pulling purchases off the wooden beds.

Sun and wind remind the crowd
Of growing fields and hopeful yields,
A circle of goods laid out for others
To pick through and decide how much
To pay for what a farmer left behind.