Green Hills Literary Lantern





Feeling like the first farmer

ten thousand years ago,

I press into the earth

the eye of a sweet potato.

I plant it in the top of a row

between two furrows.

Slowly, a special day does come

when a tender green tongue shoves dirt aside.

With famished eyes the first farmer and I

cheer on leaves which break forth

blinking in the sun.

For weeks we watch that vine

insinuate itself into our world.

Rain-saturated, the plant,

the first farmer and I all smile.

I wait with them, hungry,

while nothing happens.

Back then tribal memory couldn’t help

but today some book says it’s time

to palpate with pitchfork tines

below the bush. With hands alone

first farmers felt for food among the roots.


To unbelieving eyes, the fruit

of my poor brown thumb

soars up like a breaching whale.

Yam preposterous breaks the dirt.

Like a strange mutated football

three pounds of yam no less

etches in my mind this pleasure

I carry even now – as a species might

in cultivated food

find a new companionable friend.



Robert Elzy Cogswell, an Austin poet retired from librarianship, was a Poet of the Week on the Poetry Super Highway in February, 2007. He has poems recently published or forthcoming in Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, Passager, Lilliput Review, Farfelu, The Covenant Journal, Beacons, The Poet Magazine, Ardent, and elsewhere. Earlier in life, he was a panhandler in Manhattan.