“Thresher Thrashed”

Thresher Thrashed

I tried to scythe my tie to you,
but sighed inside, the tie too wide;
so drew a chainsaw, sawed that chain–
soon saw my efforts were in vain.

No axe could hew, the thresher thrashed,
last-ditch combine was all but trashed.
What could I do but chew and chew,
chew what tethered me to you.

I gnawed into the night’s chill gloom,
I gnawed until mouth turned to wound–
then in the furrowed mists of day
I saw that you had gone away.

You’d gone (it seemed) long long before,
but left me with the lead I wore,
except that side once held by you
now flapped with every single chew.

I lay me down on that same ground
like a plant whose harvest’s come and gone,
my teeth splayed kernels, frayed tie root
so very still from head to foot.


The above is a draft poem written for a Real Toads prompt hosted by Isadora Guya about the “mechanical harvest.” Yes, it’s kind of self-pitying and pathetic! (I say pathetic because I’m always suspicious of the martyr persona in the first person!) And maybe “lead ” should be “bond” or “leash” or “tether” or “cord”? I don’t know. At least it has a combine.

 Despite the poem’s deficiencies, I want to acknowledge a debt here to Joy Ann Jones (Hedgewitch) whose wonderful poem Cottonwood uses a chain saw that I found quite inspiring.

PS – for those interested in process, this poem’s been edited a bit since first posting – the “long before” couplet originally hinging on “long ago” and something that rhymed with that.

Check out With Real Toads, and also my books! Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents! Nose Dive really is very funny and light hearted, and 1 Mississippi is a lot of fun for little teeny kids.

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30 Comments on ““Thresher Thrashed””

  1. rebecca2000 Says:

    I still like it 🙂


  2. I love this! Love all the gnawing of the tethers, the terrific rhythm and rhyme of it all. Delightful to read.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I did a reading but then kept editing and someone came to stay after I started, and I didn’t want to read aloud any more in my apartment! Ha. Thanks. k.

  3. vivinfrance Says:

    Wow but this is such a clever poem: I love the homonyms, and being swept along on a tide of feeling.

  4. The constant churning is almost mesmerizing! Well done!

  5. hey k….you did just fantastic work…the gnawing, the tying, all the while being obscure enough to let my mind wander into your writing. I want to say this is obviously a love poem, but the tie in to the root, the tethering of plants …simply wow. I love the line about teeth splayed with kernels…..fantastic

  6. aprille Says:

    Karen, you say this is a draft: Please don’t change too much as it is a mini masterpiece as it stands.
    I’m so impressed with the way you make words do your bidding here.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha! Thanks aprille – I like the sound things, rhyme and repetition – I was just a bit impatient because I tried to record and then kept editing and because I’m always a bit suspicious of stuff in first person that sounds kind of self-pitying. But thanks so much for your kind comment. k.

  7. brian miller Says:

    dang k….intense and vivid…and felt as well….the feeling of being trapped comes through and allows us to fill ourselves into the spot….and the end, the resignation….the kernels in the teeth….whew….very nice…

  8. hedgewitch Says:

    It’s interesting to me that you chose to do this in a strict form and meter–it really works well, I think to build a mechanical feel to life destroyed that’s more implied than stated; despite the threshing and chain sawing, after all, in the end it comes down to gnawing one’s teeth to kernels. Anyway, I agree totally about the self-pity in first person/subjective verse–a huge pitfall and I am always fighting it, but I think you avoided it–never came within a mile of it really except in the last stanza, and there you neatly laid it to rest with understatement, making for a bit of very relatable pathos, but not with any woe is me feel to it . Thanks for the nod, also–always glad if a word of mine ever helps to spark further thoughts, especially when it leads to something as good as this..(btw–think ‘lead’ while a bit less obvious than leash, is a much richer word choice.)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks – I’m not so sure that the meter is strict but once I get started – and the idea of the homonyms lends itself to singsong, that just sort of takes over. (My ear likes it.) Yes, it’s the “woe is me” that always worries me – and I thought of changing voice to third person or something but that seemed too complex and I’m not sure that always solves that problem anyway. Glad that you think it works and thanks for inspiration. k.

  9. I love the wordplay, and the choice of words you have played with. Just excellent concept for this prompt.

  10. shafiqah1 Says:

    Reblogged this on shafiqah1 and commented:
    Very nice piece here Manic D!

  11. janehewey Says:

    “i gnawed until mouth turned to wound” fantastic line. I enjoy your rhythm and think, when your visitor departs, this is one poem that calls for a read-aloud. I agree with Hedge, lead is rich. the layers it calls upon are many.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. Yes, I wanted to read it aloud, and kind of did, then kept editing, and found that I wasn’t in a good situation for recording at that point. Maybe will try later. k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      OH – understood re “lead” now. Yes,I like it too, I think. Had thought of bond but lead is so much more visual, and a lot more layered than leash. Thanks.

  12. I really love the rhythym of this piece and the almost bard like quality when you read it. I don’t know about deficiencies….I think you hit it out of the corn field….damn good.

  13. Kay Davies Says:

    This is super, Karen. I agree with Corey…great rhythm…you really did hit this one out of the corn field!

  14. Wonderful verse ~ so rhythmic ~ lovely k. 🙂

  15. The somberness and rhyme works well!! I enjoyed this!

  16. margaretbednar Says:

    hmm. All that frenzy and anguish and he’d already left.

    my teeth splayed kernels, frayed tie root
    so very still from head to foot.

    Yes, once a harvest has been cut, the fields always look very still.

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