The four year old, I am told,
Has been playing Farmer Forrest—
And Farmer Forrest is always in trouble.
Look! The cow is in the road.
Look! The pig is in the pasture.
Plastic figurines are hastily assembled,
The Fisher Price Farm Patrol scrambled
To the henhouse,
The meadow,
The roof of the barn, where,
In search of a perch,
The goat is on the weathervane,
In desperate need of assistants.

For non-toy farmers there are other troubles,
Matters of money & failure &
Family & temperament &
Chemistry & finance &
Relationships & interest &
Depression & false optimism &
Globalization & neighbors &
Pricing & health insurance &
Fair wages & injury &
Legal fees & climate change &
Mechanization & maintenance &
All before dawn,
All before the weather forecast,

Or coffee, or waking,
Or sleep for that matter.
Still, a plastic figurine,
With a plastic straw hat,
Painted-on overalls,
Is plunked on a pinkie
And conjured to life
With troubles of its own.
Problems are problems, after all.
Many miles away,
At the caffeine shop in town,
The mother asks her daughter,
“What does the cow say?”

“Good! And what does the hen say?”
“Yes! And what does the piggy say?”
“Oink, oink, oink!”
So energetic; so willing!
Yet this list will run on,
Run out, before anyone will ever ask,
“What does the farmer say?”
Because none of us know;
None of us knows to ask—
Discarded on the floor,
Surrounded by enormous chickens,
Diminutive cattle,
A flock of proportionate lambs at scale,

Farmer Forrest’s expression is laser-etched,
A black line bemused,
Something intended as a smile.
What does the farmer say?
Something intended as a smile.
Then, look!