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Poetry Collection

In Drought Time

Scenes From Rural and Small Town Life

Presents the story of small town and rural life through art and poetry.  

In Drought Time attempts to capture a way of life that is in flux and perhaps soon to be lost forever.  Nationally known painters and writers contribute to a unique portrait of people and place not often addressed in literary anthologies.


Spring Thaw, Teresa Freed

Selected work from In Drought Time

Sunday’s Song

In the spring, the air is upside down.

Lima bean clouds slump over hungry trees,

and hard rains fall like bullets on a martyr.

Following a doe into the marsh

a middle-aged man trips over a root,

rolls down into the creek,

hears the low snore of frogs.

Faithless frost lingers in the numb ground,

as valleys choke on the river’s bile.

He thinks he cannot bear to live 

on this land through another summer.

Here, where gravity is a ruthless overseer

hiding in a thick fog.  Hail and fallow skies,

soy bean bushes grim as barbed wire

for as far as the eye can see.


Driving the family to church,

the car hits a cat who disappears 

under the wheels into the weeds.

Maybe it won’t die, someone whispers.

Sprinting through the sanctuary doors,

his children kneel between two pews,

draw pictures of castles and dragons,

don’t stand for the doxology,

wonder why their father never

puts money in the collection plate.

His wife listens for the punch-line

in the pastor’s sermon.

First notes of a familiar hymn

lazily ascend from organ pipes

mounted on the wall under the cross.

Every believer rises.

The noise the congregation makes

is earnest but not quite pious.

He has to step away from her


when she is singing.


Back Lit Sunflowers, Marybeth Koeze


Haying Season, Teresa Freed

Missionaries On The Porch

Despite the cruel lullaby of an endless

drizzle on the roof, barely adrift 

in a shallow dream, the door bell rings.

Children gallop to the door.  Under their 

heavy feet floors creak like old bones 

breaking, walls and hallways tremble.

I crawl to the window and pull 

my numb body up over the sill.

Missionaries are standing on the porch.

The shine off the two young men dressed 

in black pants and starched white shirts

stirs up the rotten chunk of potato eaten

for lunch, spawns visions of my brother

the hunchback spying from high atop 

a famous Parisian cathedral.


Over the long whine of the door opening

I hear my daughter invite the evangelists in.

“Dad, there’s someone here to see you.”

So much for fatherly advice about never

talking to strangers.  Have they not heard

the thunder, these Christian Soldiers 

loitering on the landing?  Can the two 

be so enchanted they don’t feel the rain

on their cheeks, and the rest of us cursed

with a nervous tick after bullied 

so long under a ruthless downpour?  

I pull on my shorts, slip on a T-shirt and 

stumble down the stairs in my bare feet.  

“Can I help you?”

“We’d like to help you brother, achieve

a personal relationship with your Lord.”

I tell them thanks, but I’ve been breaking ice

in the marsh all spring preparing the water for

cranes to nest among the fallen twisted cattail, 

and that’s as close to meeting God as I’m 

likely to get.  

My stirring liturgy startles the cat on the end 

table into a hasty retreat, kicking over a glass 

of milk with his paws as he leaps.  Instead of 

being run off from boredom or disgust, 

the boys sing me a hymn—

Come, thou long expected Lord,

Born to set us free, from our fears

And sins release us, let us find

Our rest in Thee!

This is why we build houses a half mile off 

the road behind twenty acres of marsh and 

woods, to pick tomatoes in our underwear

and stare out over green rolling hills for days

listening to frogs mate until our ears fall off 

from the joy.   And still they come. 


“I don’t mean to be rude brothers, but after

weeks of rivers of mud shifting under

my feet a melancholy condition has soaked

into my skin. And besides, as far as I can tell, 

the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is upstairs 

looking for stars in broad daylight (imagine)

with the binoculars I gave the kids the day 

their big yellow dog came up lame and couldn’t 

chase them out through the weedy alfalfa fields 



Watching the righteous walk back up my long 

gravel driveway under a cloudless late Spring 

afternoon sky, I wonder why it matters to them 

what we believe.   As long as we keep our 

promises, most of the time, and are there with 

a warm wash rag to wipe away the vomit from 

our lovers’ feverish lips, this should be enough 

to get us into heaven or anywhere else with a 

nice view, good neighbors and no money down.


In Drought Time

Scenes From Rural and Small Town Life

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