The Friday Poem 31/12/21
Rob A. Mackenzie’s poem ‘My Farm’ draws us into a deliciously irrational world where writing poetry fits you for farming, tractors go viral, and you can feed goats on potatoes, cows on milk and pigs on shit. We love Mackenzie’s quirky humour and surreal imagery, and we applaud the way he uses non-sequiturs, violation of causality, and unpredictable juxtapositions to create an atmosphere of incongruity and confusion. The poem ends with a last-ditch attempt to subvert the high-tech, post-truth society and find some sort of meaning. Dark, absurdist, but triumphantly so.
Because a true poet possesses transferable skills
and ten thousand hours of staring at blank screens
to note the detail others pass over, I have decided,
this time next year, to become a farmer.
I will gorge
on dawn breakfasts with my ravenous Turkish friend
Gustav, who also has no direct experience of farms,
but his wife is expert in enclosing feta in fat wallets
of pastry. Yes, excess is required before the sun
spits over our fields.
I cannot drive, but I am certain,
just as Michael Caine developed consumer confidence
in Mini Coopers when they tore up the luxury mall
of via Roma in The Italian Job, you’ll find the humble
tractor trending on the bulletin boards when I tow
mounds of stinking straw to village fête lawns in late
I will cultivate potatoes, the Jim Davidson
of vegetables — tasteless, valueless, unaccountably
ubiquitous in post-Brexit bistros — and feed them
to my goats as they stroll the hills like presidents
without countries to rule over. The dogs will feed
on sheep, the cows on milk, the pigs on bat shit,
the bats on any poor sprite that crawls or flies
through my sulphurous barns.
I will maintain
an obsession with livestock: the skeletal hyenas,
pink mice lashed into bubblegum or blancmange,
cigar-puffing Siamese, cider-swilling rats, gibbons
on social media twenty hours a day arguing that
cannabis is dangerously addictive. I will farm them
into data, algorithmic spaghetti.
I will conduct
rooster choirs while Gustav scans his news menu
for signs of weakness in the chickenfeed economy:
so much to exploit, so little time to be bothered,
but smallholders and urban dandies form the grit
from which my oxgang expands.
I long to daub
their chestnut crops with insecticide and Novichok,
slide into occupied land, bundle manure and corn
into burnt offerings for pop idols. I will harness
unsung technology to wither the cities to fern
and bracken: Commodore 64, the dial-up modem,
Windows 95. Only the most implausible notions
have sufficient repercussions for the real world.