by Wendell Wiebe-Powell

Somewhere between the two…listening and truth telling…sighting the moon through the aperture of a strange tree in the woods…this poem began to stir.

round up the savages
dig that ditch
put in the tile
drain that swamp
plant your rows straight and long
some said it sounded like a giant zipper
when the moldboard plow
cut through
thousand year roots
dozen feet deep
virgin prairie
opened for business

clear out that thicket
spray those weeds
tidy it up
neighbors look over the fence don’t you know
trap the vermin
rake those leaves
burn em!
never mind insects are in free-fall
and all that depend on them
larvae nestled in leaf-cover
like heretics
put your feet up and watch the screen
while the sprinkler waters dead-zone green

there go those crows again
making mockery
of melodic of mower
and leaf blower
O machine
and TV screen
shut out
the cacophony
of leaves and weeds and wild seeds
those irresponsible unwed mothers
and refugees crossing borders
or worse yet, refugees who are unwed mothers!
banish them to the stable
that’s how we roll
Rahab’s hoisting her riffraff
over the wall
Marduk’s minions
mount your munitions
slam shut the border
law and order!
hunt down that babe
in Rahab’s line

still the crows jeer
what we don’t want to hear
redemption’s found
in beleaguered family
myriad cacophony
of untamed forest
and prairie
groaning to be set free
to jubilee


Wendell and his wife, Laura, raised three sons in Elkhart, Indiana, where they are members of Fellowship of Hope Mennonite Church. His involvements have included community development and sustainability projects; church leadership, peace, justice and environmental advocacy; caregiving for and learning from persons with developmental disabilities. He is also a gardener, writer, runner and encourager of political and social engagement rooted in Earth and Spirit. For example, he has helped youth in Elkhart area high schools to understand the realities of war and military service and to seek alternative careers and education – information they do not hear from recruiters from all branches of the military active in their halls.


In Northern Indiana, 85% of wetlands have been drained to create farmland with the help of piping known as tile.


Crow photo by Kasturi Roy on Unsplash.