In the end the thing that disturbed him most,
the thing he remembered most through the years,
was when he returned to the family place,
to the hard unforgiving acres where
his father still farmed, and recalled again
the inherent knowledge he once possessed
simply by being his father’s son—
a knowledge foregone, consigned to the past,
till he saw it rise up in his father’s face
as a look of reproach: that nothing gained
by talking has worth, that cattle and land
are the only wealth befitting a man,
that a landless man is like Adam cast
from the Garden, shamed, and forever lost.
B.J. Omanson’s poems in this issue are from a collection of poems about the Spoon River valley in Illinois where he was raised. Other poems from this collection have appeared in The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review, Shenandoah & elsewhere. Most recently he wrote the annotations for the poems of a “lost” WWI poet whom he rediscovered, John Allan Wyeth, whose book of poems, This Man’s Army: A War in Fifty-odd Sonnets was republished by the University of South Carolina Press in 2008, with an introduction by Dana Gioia. Omanson’s current project, Where the River Darkens: An Experiment in Autobiography & Poetry, can be seen at http://forgottenstair.wordpress.com.