Farmer’s Lament

Summer has set in, but we had a beautiful spring and early summer here in our part of Texas—mild temperatures, and lots of rain—but I’m seeing reports that isn’t the case in much of the country this year. We’re being warned of high produce and meat prices, due to drought conditions in the heartlands. I wrote this poem many years ago—probably during another drought—but it fits those rainless areas again this year.

I’m posting it on dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night this afternoon. Some of you saw it when I posted it last year, but I know many of you haven’t seen it yet. I’m also adding an audio version  (<– click here)this time around, so even if you’ve read the poem, I hope you’ll check out the reading of it by yours truly (that’d be me).


Farmer’s Lament


Sun hot on the back of my neck

Sweat dripping off my brow

I rock to the beat of the ol’ poppin’ Johnny

Got a thousand acres to plow


Dry stubble as far as I can see

Too dry, the corn couldn’t take it

Lost most of the cotton crop too

Don’t know how we’re gonna make it


The bank called again this mornin’

Their demands every week get stronger

Cows so thin you can see right through ‘em

And me…. I can’t take this much longer


The wife got a job last week

Part time at the grocery store

She’s a trooper, tryin’ to pitch in

Says, don’t worry, we been here before


I know it, but it don’t make it no better

Words don’t much ease the pain

‘cause I’m plowin’ this year’s crop under

Prayin’ next year we’ll get some rain

Copyright © 1998 C. Mashburn

Click here to hear me read “Farmer’s Lament”


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    I cannot imagine what the farmers across our nation must be going through. Great write, Charlie!

  2. zongrik said

    lots of great imagery here. i like the stubble being the earth, and not the man, although, i totally imagine the man with stubble.

    • Yep. I imagine him with a rugged, dry, wrinkled face, with about a three day beard; too tired too shave. And, maybe doesn’t want to waste the water. Then agaain, sometimes when you’re depressed, you just don’t care what you look like, so why bother to shave.
      Thanks, Zongrik!

  3. We are so spoiled here in CA – garden grows almost year round and plenty of water. The only benefit of hard times is that while the corn won’t grow, it grows tough and determined men and women who understand the value of hard work. These are people with true character. Thanks for sharing.

  4. even if it is a year old…it is still poignant today…driving halfway across the country last week i got to see a lot of the fields and my wife and i were pondering the plight of the farmer a bit…your voice plays well to this…

    • Thanks, Brian. We drove from CS to Lake Texoma this past weekend, and it was amazing to see the difference a few hundred miles can make. We didn’t see the worst of it, but we saw some very dry country up north of Dallas. Then, on the way back on I45, we saw the landscape change until it was almost tropical in its lush greenness when we got nearer to College Station and Houston. But, last year, even CS and Houston were parched. The weather is a fickle monster.

  5. Susan said

    I read and listened together and felt I was seeing it too as your images fell into the rhythm of the furrows, and the rhyme added to the vocal resignation. Hard story, well told.

  6. well said, Charles. We complain about our lawns turning brown while there are those that really suffer from the lack of rain.

    • Yep, we never have to look far to find someone less fortunate than ourselves.
      Thanks, Mark.

  7. Read this with total empathy for the resigned sigh that runs through this excellent piece, sometimes you just can’t fight mother nature can you. A great tale perfectly told Charles.

    • Yes’m, I’ve been atop an old poppin Johnny, but my livelihood never depended on it like the guy in the poem.
      Thank you!

  8. A sad plight for the farmers who depend on the land ~

    Enjoyed the visit Charles ~

    • Yes, sometimes things don’t go as man plans them, no matter what the effort might be.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. hedgewitch said

    It’s a hard life for the little man in farming these days, what few family farms are left, and this drought is deadly for many. We had a wet spring, but when it’s 100+ every day and not a cloud in sight for two months it doesn’t take long to for green things to give up the ghost. I love the voice in this one, Charles.

    • Yes, farming is not so kind to the small farmer any longer.
      Thanks for the wonderful comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the poem!

  10. tashtoo said

    These times, when the family farms struggle to hold on through red tape and policies made with factory farms in mind…drought was the last thing we needed. Charles, I thought this just fantastic…the reading was AWESOME…if only we could provide a solution with our words…

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Tash! Thanks for the awesome and thought-filled comment!

  11. yoga-adan said

    there’s so much going here too, the courage of the wife and farmer, banks who (probably) got bailouts putting on the pressure, and this,

    “Cows so thin you can see right through ‘em”

    so glad ya’ll are doing better weather-wise this summer than last, which, don’t know if you knew, was had texas with the hottest summer on record of any state any time in recorded weather history (bastrop burning, 110s in central texas)

    college station gets a bit more of the moisture and rains from the gulf, but not “that” much 😉

    and with august – mid oct coming, the other extreme, a 24-48 inch rain dump, well…

    all our best wishes and hopes for all ya’ll back home (we’re in vermont right now to visit w/my wife’s folks, but i spent my whole life austin/houston/galveston)

    anyway, your poem caught the part that’s too frequent there, heat and drought, when it ain’t flooding 😉

    take care charles

  12. ayala said

    A great capture of the struggle of so many. Well penned, Charles.

  13. Leo said

    There are quite a few who’d relate to that lament here in India, Charles. Quite a few who couldn’t handle being there again too. My heart feels these words quite deeply. Well penned. Kudos.


    • Yes, drought is not partial to this country. All parts of the world suffer it at one time or another.
      Thanks for the visit and comment, Leo!

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