The Harvested Man By W.K Kortas

The Harvested Man

He nurses his coffee, by himself most days,
But occasionally with the one or two others
Who constitute the bulk of the clientele of the diner
(Low-slung building faceless, nameless
Although those who remember a day
When the village was at least borderline prosperous
And home to more than a few hundred wan souls
Still refer to it as “Kitty’s Place”,
Though its namesake has been dead and gone some five decades),
One of the few going concerns which implausibly remain,
Seemingly through nothing more than sheer inertia,
In the drab little downtown along Canton Street.

He languishes over his cup for as long as the mood hits him,
There being no discernible reason to hurry
(Indeed, the diner itself, once open before sunrise
Now dark and silent until a leisurely seven-thirty or so),
His place not really a working farm these days,
Just a smattering of beef cattle
(Milking and stripping out more than he can manage now)
And what acreage of corn he can get in the ground.
Eventually, he totters out of the front door,
One sleeve of his shirt rolled and pinned up
(Its former occupying member removed
After the incident with the ancient and malevolent corn binder),
Moving toward his truck with an all-but-one-legged gait,
His left-leg jigsaw-puzzled by an overturned Farmall
Some years back (most days he reckoned he’d tipped the tractor
By failing to shift his balance to accommodate driving one-armed,
Though if he was in a black enough mood he’d put it down
To an old Iroquois curse placed on the entire St. Lawrence valley.)

One could say, if he was a poet or some other damn philosophical fool,
That these partial sacrifices served to ward off some even more awful finality.
He would have none of that, of course–in his own cosmology
The gods and demons most likely have bigger fish to fry,
And, as to the prospect of some inexorable wreck and ruin,
He is of the opinion that what he has given up to this point
Is both ample and sufficient.

By W.K Kortas


W.k. kortas is an itinerant civil servant living in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains.  He lives and works by the axiom “Mediocre means better than some.”

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