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Brandon, The Mower*

NT; (c) Knightshayes Court; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

These wings fall down upon these blades of grass,
And my mechanical scythe reaps all weeds;
Though I a weed, a reaper who does pass
Through field and grove, sheering, shaping ill deeds.

With open plane set before my green face,
I fly with haste, making wide paths to cross;
No snares snap the sinews of my beast’s race,
Re-turning, I roar back against the dross. 

The reaper does no wrong when in the zone,
When casting aside the old for the new;
Beams burn his holy head, winds whip through bone,
But he plods on, through heat or morning dew. 

The reaper does no wrong, only right,
He mows all day, feeling light and quite gay;
Robins rejoice, children sing at the sight
Of new shorn grass open for work and play.

But at curb’s sight, this mower’s pulse will rise,
For he watches his left wing, lest it slips;
He watches the curb with care, fearing his demise,
He hears a clunk-clunk, his right wing he clips. 

Broom Snow
Hale Library,
Manhattan, Kansas
June 4, 2015

Painting: "A Rustic Holding A Scythe"
By Peter De Wint,
Oil on panel, n.d.


*Idea taken from Marvell's fantastic "Mower" poems.


Evening Harvest


The combine’s headlight filters
through the underbrush of the night
a lighthouse for the land-locked

on the margin of the road, the single beam higher and brighter

than the surrounding sets of two,
a beacon for the field, for the work to be done there—

the slow clawing of the plow,
the seeding, the watering. Today, though,
the harvest heaves open

the heavy cellar door of the dark, the highway

travelers oblivious, wearing the blinders
of a twilit journey, no glance toward the furrowed acres,

the stalk and seed, the drafty barns, the homes
with farmers asleep. This farmer is awake, churning
through crop, rousing himself with each turn of the radio dial  

as he rouses the ground itself  

at the hour when even the land seems to close its earthen eyes.
Here begins the bread of tomorrow.

If I had no car and he no machine,
if we were wayfarers of a buried age,
there would be no reason to acknowledge the other,

no way to know the other was there. Even yards apart,

the swish of his scythe or the brush
of his winnowing fork 

would have sounded just like the prairie wind
passing over my ears. 

Bryn Homuth
May 29, 2015
Recalling a bleary-eyed midnight drive on I-94

The Sheepfold, Moonlight
Oil on panel
Jean-François Millet, 1856-1860


Commission: "The Newton Paper"

Along the course of history’s arc, certain works aught to be penned, printed, painted or preserved. At that same moment, a person may may be found as just the one for said charge. This is all well and good, but what will they eat upon to have the strength to lift the pen or give in return for a place to lay the head? This is when the society reaches for the back pocket, as it were. We are, therefore, pleased to present these, the Commissioned Works of The Ink Society.


As with the first Ink Society commission, we continue to place a damper on the death knell of localism by releasing the second in the series. A tidy packet of paper with a local name and local face seemed just the thing. Hence, The Ink Society commissioned a collection of works on Newton Kansas by our own R. Eric Tippin to be printed in the form of a newspaper and scattered about town. If you are, by chance, quite pre-occupied with your own particular locale and cannot procure the ink and paper variety, the commission is included below for your perusal.

The Newton Paper


On a Walkthrough of My Wife's Childhood Home 


while she helps paint the walls,
the novice historian in me stirs,
and I picture her there, in the den
of youth. She runs a hand along a fresh coat
just dried, and walks
with the childlike tread of discovery,
the raised dots and grooves
leading around the room
as though a kind of Braille had been laid into the texture.
I try to find some trace of it in a pass of my fingertips,
as if I might find a faint outline—
a hieroglyphic remembrance,
a cipher entombed there,
if such a cipher could exist
for the complete knowledge of a person.
It must be involuntary, the encryption, a terminal
where the memory sits, doggedly typing,
coding the files of experience,
eyes dry and heavy in the screen’s glow.
If a scraper could chip, layer by layer, to the base
while still preserving the rest,
I might break off and pocket a fleck of each,
maybe to mix in a can of our own.
A pan of lustrous beige lies in the corner,
the roller still wet, the last section blank, anxious.
I touch the spongy cover,
and rub the paint between forefinger and thumb
as if to blend it with my skin
before it hardens.

Bryn Homuth
On a leisurely spring morning
May 18, 2015

"Inspection of the Old House"
Oil on Canvas - 1874
Ivan Kramskoy 



What an English Master's Degree Taught Me

(c) City of Edinburgh Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

If a man wishes to be literary, he should not aspire to be literary. If a man wishes to be a writer or a critic, he should do anything and everything but dash out into the world to become a writer or to criticize. The man who sets out to be such a thing will only be like many of the common English majors today, who walk about and look very literary but have nothing to say. There was the horrid movement known as aestheticism. "Art for art's sake," they cried. "Art needs no moral!" "Down with Didacticism!" and so forth. I wonder now if we are not in the age of "artist for artist sake." For man a modern artists will amble around and look artsy, so as to be thought an artist, but few modern artists create art. That is, few modern artists create works that attempt to point to a higher truth or reality. Few modern artists do this because few are moved by the world. And one might say that a dead man is a man not moved by the world. But even a man without a pulse spins around with the globe. The unmoved man is not dead; he is the opposite of dead; he is perpetually running backwards against a world that would propel him forwards. The modern English graduate student is this man. 

And the truth of all this is evident in those literary circles where groups of men and women gather around. They're assumed to be witty, to read, to love words, and they all probably give lip-service to those things. But few actually read, few actually write with any wit, few are moved by poetry with cunning wordplay. What the English graduate student is moved by today is the social issue. Bring up Shakespeare, imagery, and iambic pentameter, and a yawn emits from most of these literary bookworms. But it isn't really a yawn, or, if it is, it quickly becomes a scowl. Why waste time with Shakespeare's meter when we could be discussing his supposed sister? Why laugh with Pickwick when we could be examining how Pip exists in a liminal space? Around and around go the bookworms until everyone is firmly convinced that J.M. Barrie is a Pedophile, Dickens an anti-semite, Stevenson a raging misogynist, and Toni Morrison and optimist. The bookworms will spend fifty minutes on Macbeth's masculinity and fifty seconds on his declaration that "life is a poor player strutting his way across the stage." And all the while the bookworms want the world to think that they love literature and words and that they're witty writers when there is more love and wit in a seven year old in his backyard, acting out the adventures of Grahame's Mole and Rat. 

And what I've learned about myself as an English master's graduate is that the last literary group I'd be associated with is the academic group. For the truth is that the true literary man finds adventures in every nook and cranny of life. Then, he can't help but write about it. He cannot help but notice the variety of life. He writes poetry not because he wants to be considered a poet; he throws half of it in a safe-box for none to read. He writes poetry because for him life is poetical. For him, birds do sing in meter and squirrels screech in Alexandrine couplets. The true literary man sees life as it is — not some dull, morbid social issue, but as a tragicomedy. Every man he meets is a comedy; every man he meets is a tragedy. The literary man recognizes that the world began as a comedy with the marriage of two true minds; and it began in tragedy with the fortunate fall. And if life is but a stage for the literary man, if he is but a player playing his part, it is not because of the vanity of life; it is because of the vanity of the self. The literary man does not self-identify or self-construct, for to do either is to self-destruct. The literary man does not have time to think about his gender because he is too busy taking in the wonder of the created world.

What an English master's degree taught me is that if you want to sit around with a bunch of bros and discuss literature, the last place to go is an English department. If you want to figure out your gender or find out how racist you are, the English department is the place for you. But if you want to discuss literature and everything that comes with it — which may include gender and race — then you find a few men who know nothing about theory but who love books. You might even seek out conversation with the mailman who has never read a book. For the mailman, more often than not, still believes in truth and can have an intelligent conversation. A professor denies truth and then talks as if everything he is saying is true. I say, a conversation with a gardner about geography is more literary than any conversation about the geo-political structure of Grimm's Fairy Tales. There is more literature, true literature, in the soul of the sailor, for he may believe he has a soul. And I would seek to sail with him.

Broom Snow,
Written on the eve of graduation,
Manhattan, KS
May 14, 2015

Painting: "The Bibliophilist's Haunt (Creech's Bookshop)"
William Fettes Douglas,
Oil on canvas, 1864