Side by Side & What Counts, Dan Paquette

I’m tilling the soil so as to include

rows of potatoes, broccoli and kale.

 I’m puffing.  My lungs rasp, louder

than the piercing of this stony soil,

scraping out the dandelion stubble,

Canadian thistle. Soil’s blackening.

Above, the puffs of charcoal clouds,

airborne potatoes, hubbard squash.

Pitchfork strains to fold the bottom

of my foot, the  ground meanwhile,

floats a familiar fungal  odor. Woe,

despondency of  this day evaporate

in stillness, a nothingness of dusk,

my boot heel-to-toe, step onto fork.

Son shouts supper  from the porch.

Comforting his preparation,  soup’s

now ladled, peppered,  buttery fish

 steaming, hot  noodles sesame. For

what we are, and about  to receive,

 what will soon rise from the earth.



What Counts

By Dan Paquette


I’m tilling the soil so as to include

rows of potatoes, broccoli and kale.


Each pitch of  the fork churns forth

about five hundred billion bacteria,

five hundred million protozoa. Just

a slug or two, but as for nematodes,

around eighty thousand, springtails

and  mites in the hundreds, pollen…


Mashing the dirt, such disturbance,

the  majority, inconveniently jerked

skyward, turned upside-down. But

of the unfortunates, perhaps one in

every thousand: stress, deficiencies,

one hundred fifty million fatalities.


Spores aborting, exposure, millions

of bacteria not living to next fission.

Still churning the plot (my plot and

theirs) controlling destinies, means

of reproduction. So add composting

and less tilling—salvation for us all?
















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