Friday, April 20, 2018

I Wish I'd Written This

Mother Farm 

The farm is our mother in her birthday suit.
Our father drives a tractor across her hips
and sows children in her bones.

The totem animals run through her veins
and the winds press the grasslands to her lips.
Every contour of her fertility is a waterhole
and beneath her belly is the aquifer of our living allowance.

The sun beats her by day
and the moon pities her by night.
and when the rains come she puts on a new dress
and shakes the flowers from her daughters.

She runs the seasons through her hair
and her sons come home to harvest.
The grain spills out so much the birds can't leave the ground.
The cattle fatten themselves to death
and the mice plague her sleep.

Then father burns her summer dress
and turns her skin to fallow.
Her sons follow the dollar downriver
and she has make up sex with the sun.

As much as she gives we'll take
and take some more.
And as much as she gives
she'll give
and give some more.
That's how it is for the farm
that is our mother.

Benjamin W Wild © 2018

I met Ben Wild at the same poetry reading where Robbie Wesley read the poem I featured last week.This – obviously – was another of the poems on offer that night which really appealed to me. 

You may recall, the theme of the evening was "Love Poems for the Earth". I do see the Earth as our mother, and I like the personification this poem gives her. This mother is a long-suffering one, as many human mothers are – only even more so. The last verse says it all, unequivocally. A harsh poem, you might well think, yet born out of great tenderness for the Earth our Mother. When he posted the poem on his facebook page on International Women's Day, he said he wrote it "when thinking about my two Mums – both biological and environmental – and how they both tolerate and create in equal measure."

"But we need our farms!" you might protest. Yes ... but some of our farming practices are not good for the planet. In a way, the poem seems to say that the whole Earth is a great farm; and in a way that is true. At least, before there was farming as we know it, tribal peoples lived off the land. They didn't necessarily have to cultivate crops at all. Well, I suppose that, for most of us, there is no going back to a nomadic lifestyle, but we might still find farming practices which nurture rather than harm the planet – and we'd better, if we ourselves hope to survive.

The photo comes from Ben's website, as does the following biographical information.

Benjamin W Wild was born in 1979 and grew up on a property between Quambone and Warren in Central New South Wales.
He has studied, worked, lived, dreamt and travelled, and continues to live himself to death in a manner of ways- be they old, boring, exciting, different or new.
He talks in the third person when filling out the kind of social documentation that compels people to think that it gives them an air of seriousness and professionalism, but not as much as he talks to himself.
No I don’t.
Yes we do.

He has self-published three books of Selected Poetry:
‘Aluc(i)na’ in 2009.
‘SMUT’ (collaboration) in 2010.
and ‘Kaleidoscope’ in 2014.
Contact Benjamin at:  to purchase.

He has been published in various other publications, has often been a featured reader at poetry events around Australia, has been placed in several awards, and in 2016 won The ‘Arts Queensland XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word’.

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.


  1. I LOVE this poem, and this poet's awareness. This was a treat to read this morning, Rosemary. I loved "no i dont. Yes we do." Lol.

  2. This poem definitely speaks to both the beauty of this earth as well as our use or misuse of it. I enjoyed reading the poet's different style, which paints a picture and makes such a good point.
    Not only do I wish I'd written this but I wish I could have attended that poetry reading. It sounds like it was so full of talent.

  3. I loved this, and how timely as I recently saw a program about how farms add to our carbon emissions and global warming/climate change with their practices....and how some simple change in practices would go a long way to a better earth, better climate and more productive farms. Thank you for bringing this wonderful poet to us!

  4. Lush imagery/metaphor here--exquisite. That said, when we deal with earth as mother/woman, this passivity--being acted on and teaching her daughters to do the same--gives me pause. I cringe. You expleained the context and the awareness he offered, yet this is a big part of the "taming the frontier" imagery. I know that women can be farmers, too, and also non-gendered beings. But that isn't in here. I wonder where we find the balance, where the invite is, how much she could do herself. I think that for unenlightened men and women, it keeps us women "in our place." I don't think I'm being hateful, but I am cautiously raising consciousness. The poem is luscious, and I wish it could be that simple. Benjamin is a skilled writer.

    1. To me "the farm" also serves as a metaphor for the whole planet, which we as a species have acted on so carelessly and cavalierly (even though many individuals among us have tried to do otherwise). I think he is making one point very strongly, and that it would be difficult, if not counter-productive, to say in the same poem, "But on the other hand, there are all these exceptions". That is perhaps one problem in selecting just one poem from a poet's whole oeuvre. (Though in fact I am not familiar with Mr Wild's whole oeuvre, and what I have read tends to look at all manner of things with a critical, even pessimistic – and often satirical – eye. )

  5. You made me think of something i would otherwise have missed, Susan. I think back to old small farming practises which were sustainable. Old time farmers would be horrified at the practices of agri-"farming" of today. The problem is always that profit is all that matters. Interesting, too, to ponder the role of the feminine. We still have a long way to go in all areas....if humankind survives long enough to learn it.

    1. I'm sorry to say this has not always been the case with Australian small farms of any era.

  6. this poem makes me look at our Earth as a farm. the farm is supposed to be sustainable, but it is not the case now in many places. we are to give back what we have taken out, but instead, there is deforestation, unsustainable logging, open-pit mining, over-fishing.

  7. the farm is one of those jewels that have been decimated... here they are being over run by developers... what once were fields are now housing developments... the grocery stores have very little homegrown products it is all imported from afar... it is not a good look for future generations....

  8. A stunning extended metaphor and brilliant imagery. Wonderful writing!

  9. My that was a beautiful poem. I am sure any of us wish we could have written something like that with such earthy sensuous humour.

  10. You could read Let the Land Speak (Jackie French), The Biggest Estate on Earth, How Aborigines Made Australia (Bill Gammage),
    and/or Dark Emu (Bruce Pascoe) to see how the indigenous Australians did treat the earth, and what we could learn. They farmed it, grew grain, and cared for it too.

    1. They did indeed! And these are all excellent authors. Alas, the invaders failed to respect or learn from the original people.

  11. The imagery is as lush as it is stunning. A grand poetic experience
    Thanks for this share Rosemary



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