Thursday, February 4, 2021

Poetry Friday

 Happy February,

Are you shivery? I am! I have taken to lap blankets--with electric heaters inside. Jone is warmly hosting our Poetry Friday round-up at her beautiful blog. Thank you, Jone!

This month, my SWAGGER pals have taken up a challenge posed by Catherine.

My mentor poem is, The Ox Cart Man, By Donald Hall

In October of the year,
he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,   
counting the seed, counting   
the cellar’s portion out,   
and bags the rest on the cart’s floor.

He packs wool sheared in April, honey
read the rest here

My poem...

What the Ox Cart has to Say 


In the shearing season, I rested

as sheep cried, shorn thin

kicking up their heels before

escaping to the fat green fields

where lambs nibbled innocently


By July I was pressed into service

carrying boys to haying

filling me to groaning with

bales of sunny stalks piled high

topped with raucous laughter


All of those trips out of the barn

pulled by Ox, my constant companion

to flax and cornfields in August

later to potato hills

into the winter woods for sap, 

and honeycombs in May


I’ve faithfully fetched and carried

for Farmer for a year until--

my boards shine smooth and silver

now heavy under the weight of goods

for Portsmouth Market


Each handshake signals farewell

to fields, Farmer, barn, and Ox

where I watched sheep

and creaked after a long day

of bringing  

bounty after bounty.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Lim, Adolf. “Hay Harvest, Farmer Couple with Ox Cart.” Mutual Art, © 2021 MutualArt Services, Inc., 2018,

Find more responses to this challenge:

Reading to the Core

Nix the Comfort Zone

My Juicy Little Universe

Reflections on the Teche

Hamish's padlet now has four Ox poems. Hooray!


  1. Thanks for your poem and for the challenge. I took up the challenge here:

  2. An excellent challenge - and an awe-inspiring response. thank you for sharing your cleverness.

  3. How wonderful to see you rising to two challenges; the mentor poem and the ox theme. Lots of lovely alliteration interspersed through this, Linda. There's something restful about 'I've faithfully fetched and carried.'

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  5. You really nailed this challenge with this gentle poem from the Ox Cart. Who'da ever thought I would care so much for an Ox and his cart? You are inspiring me with your commitment to your OLW.

  6. I love Donald Hall's poems and now yours can lie beside it, Linda. Taking that ox-cart's voice is special, imagining its life in such a real way. I love it all, but somehow this line seems to show the age and work so beautifully: "my boards shine smooth and silver". Great challenge, too!

  7. Well done, Linda! Your details allow us to truly 'hear' what the ox cart has to say. :)

  8. I especially like those "bales of sunny stalks piled high/topped with raucous laughter." Nice ending, too :-) The Ox is carrying you faithfully this year...or are you carrying the Ox faithfully? Stay warm! xo

  9. Great job. Love hearing from the ox cart and being reminded of Hall's poem and the wonderful picture book. Perfect choice for Lunar New Year, Happy Year of the Ox!

  10. I love Hall's poem and now hearing a story told by the ox-cart. It's a great subject for a poem and your's so successfully evoked admiration for this workhorse on wheels.

  11. The sturdy cart has carried much through the seasons. I enjoyed hearing from its perspective--and it reminds me of the sheep that are our neighbors (though they seem to be missing the ox to pull their carts).

  12. I love that you gave the ox cart a voice.

  13. How cool to take the voice of the ox-cart. I remember having the Hall picture book in the library. I was with the cart through the seasons.

  14. Linda, I was wonder where the ox might lead today - never expected to hear the ox cart's tale, nor to feel such empathy for it! Gorgeous imagery - worn smooth by work in faithful service, witness to "bounty after bounty" - magnificent metaphor. I love every word, along with that artwork.

  15. This is so cool, Linda. I especially like stanza two with its contrast between the hard working cart and the light-hearted working boys.

  16. I love this in all the ways you know, and the painting you found is perfect. "Bounty after bounty"!

  17. Linda, your poem pairs beautifully with the painting. I also love how your poem is from the POV of the cart. Lovely images as in "where I watched sheep/
    and creaked after a long day/of bringing/bounty after bounty." I hear your alliteration and consonance. Well done. I have enjoyed every Swaggers poem. Thank you.


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!