poem written in 1981


I have left my car along a road near Grapeland, Texas
and walked into someone’s field.
How lovely the border pines in the rise of wind,
the stalks of maize heavy with rain water.

I own no land, no home, and before the car is paid for
it will pass to others.
But I will kneel in these furrows,
and with my right hand pull johnson grass out of the loose soil.
Hold weed roots up to the sun
white and delicate as the bodies of my children.

From a pine tree, two hawks are watching.
Rising up, I am turning in a circle.
I sing, I bless this land. I sing, I bless this nation.
I bow down like a Muslim in the maize.



  1. He still wonders about the occasional sense of drift between stanzas,

    and the way here and there a line will go into the configuration of a

    Moslem at prayer, then raise itself up and peer about, and then lay

    itself down slightly off the mark, causing the poem to move

    forward with God’s reckless wobble. — Galway Kinnell, “Oatmeal”

    You know, it’s funny: I’m noticing, more and more, that the versions I have of some of Galway’s poems have been changed in the versions that are online. I don’t like that.

    • At least one poem on the audio version of Galway’s Strong Is Your Hold, is different from the printed version it came with. I saw Gary Snyder give a reading the year my friend Rafael Stoneman was born and before he started he was furiously scratching out lines and writing over them in his book. I wrote this poem in 1981 and have changed it twice since Tuesday.

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