for Will Petty in Blaine
or wherever he is .
There he is that sassy kid
Head full of wit and fire
Walking the hills like level ground
Hand in a sack full of plums.
Cocky, wild, full of himself
I wish I were more like him–
Take the heat from a flame,
The strut from a cock
The leap and kick from a kid
Break the heart of a nation!
Let be, let the boy go
Who can say
When he eats that plum
Where he spits that pit
A tree will not rise tomorrow?
How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.
For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.
What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.
In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.
State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security;
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.
~ Wendell Berry
Wendell E. Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. A prolific author, he has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.
a dusty farm boy
a small white dog
turn every corner
of a small corn field
chasing the lone crow