Prairie Poetry   
  The Straw Man

I almost hate to tell you this story:
In summer after the wheat is cut
In the fields on the rises where radiant fog
Might form in the morning,

In these fields on the rises
They gather with pitchforks and sticks
In the hot rays of the afternoon Sun
When there is no vapor left to hide in

And in the straw left over
The beaters form a deadly ring
And knock their sticks together,
Sure to catch and kill the Straw Man.

They have to stop his little voice.
He whispers in the ears of those not quite grown
And he'll find the ambling bicycle, he'll catch up
With a slow walker on the roads out of town.

And his murmur is so sweet, they'll forget all
They were told about the boogieman
And the devil. They were warned not to listen,
Not to make wings of wood and fly off the barn,

Not to summon him with cigarette smoke and ride
Away on trains and never sell encyclopedias or go
West and never play with Spirits in the woods—never.
In September if they let him get full in his shape,

It will be too late and some of them will be lost
And gone just like the wild birds the Straw Man
Lures with his little bell voice every evening.
If he's not stopped, sorrowful days will come.

On the top of the hill in the middle of the day
The tines are sharpened to ghost killing sharp.
The noise and clack of a hundred sticks
Will make him moan and show himself.
I was there. This is what they think.

  Christopher Cook
  Copyright © 2008 Christopher Cook
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