This week’s form is the LAI (lay).  French in origin, a Lai has nine lines and two rhymes that follow this pattern:  aab aab aab.  Lines with an “a” rhyme have five syllables and those with a “b” rhyme have two.  Mine (below) is also an elegy, mourning the loss of a beloved friend.

For decades, we’ve walked our dogs down a long lane between tracts
of farmland, enjoying the seasonal beauty of an iconic oak on the path.  This year, it emerged from spring rickety and leafless, likely a victim of agricultural pesticides.  It puzzles me that farmers, men who depend on the soil for their livelihood, are so flippant about their use of chemicals.  Without wildflowers and weeds for food, populations of bees and other pollinators continue to wane.  Stately trees are written off as collateral damage.  What do you suppose eating tainted crops does to humans?  Clue:  a hundred years ago, your chance of getting cancer was 1 in 33; today, it’s nearly 1 in 3!  Please, please, please, THINK about what you put in your mouth.  Choose ORGANIC and support farmers who care.


Lifeless old oak
your shriveled roots poke,
between farm fields soaked
with poisons to choke
weed and thorn
What foolhardy folk
would trade this grand bloke
for corn?

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17 thoughts on “COLLATERAL DAMAGE

  1. chevvy8 May 28, 2017 / 5:45 am

    You really are very good at introducing these interesting forms of poetry Joan. Sadly, there is always collateral damage in most choices and decisions we make but don’t stop trying to change the world in every little act!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan May 28, 2017 / 9:41 am

      Thanks, Chevvy, good to hear from you. The bottom line is the basis for so many choices, as if only money were important. I was thrilled to learn that our local Farm Market has added an exchange table (tokens for food stamp dollars) to enable those on public assistance to take advantage of fresh, locally grown organics at a good price. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step, they say. Happy Sunday! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • chevvy8 May 28, 2017 / 12:24 pm

        That’s a good story Joan. As you say, every step adds up. I’m great and hope that you are having a wonderful weekend as well.😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Tippy Gnu May 28, 2017 / 11:33 am

    There’s so much pollution from agriculture, I sometimes wonder if it’s safer to eat, drink, and breathe in a city, rather than a farm area. Thanks for another interesting poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan May 28, 2017 / 4:10 pm

      Hey, Tippy! Good to see you. I guess the answer to your pondering has to do with whether the city-fied food and water are exposed to farm pesticides before they reach your mouth. Lots of my family is/was farmers; it’s a dicey occupation at best and once you’ve invested in acres of land, tractor, machines, silos, etc, Monsanto crops pretty much have you by the throat. It takes 7 years or more of chemical-free soil restoration before crops grown on that land can be considered “organic,” long enough to bankrupt farmers that live on the edge. Hope all is well with you, wife, and F-I-L. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tippy Gnu May 28, 2017 / 4:20 pm

        Thanks. Yes, farming has always seemed like a tenuous way to make a living, to me. My great-grandmother used to say about farming, “You can’t make a living off of five acres, and ten acres is twice as hard.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan May 28, 2017 / 4:25 pm

        I always think of Little House on the Prairie, and how many years in a row their crops failed due to weather or something. My parents used to do a family-sized organic garden, lots of picking and prepping, canning, freezing, pickling, all summer long, enough to last through the winter. A BIG job for all of us. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan May 28, 2017 / 4:20 pm

      True, Marissa. But as more people choose organics, more brands appear and competition drives prices down. If we buy local, farmers are eager to unload what’s in season, and there is minimal shipping cost. Our local farm market is now offering a token exchange so people on food stamps can use their benefit there. We don’t just vote in November; we vote every time the store scanner goes BEEP. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Peter Klopp May 28, 2017 / 7:02 pm

    I must go back to your previous posts and take notes of all the different forms you have introduced. I like your poetry and its accompanying lessons so much that I would like to copy and paste them into my digital notebook. Great job with your LAI, Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan May 29, 2017 / 10:39 am

      WOW! Thanks, Peter. I started introducing new forms regularly last fall, maybe in October? I’m having a lot of fun with it and hope you guys are, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. L. T. Garvin, Author May 28, 2017 / 10:12 pm

    The Lai is certainly and interesting and creative form, Joan. I also grew up in a farming community, and I am very familiar with pesticide use. Organic food would be great, but it is also quite expensive here, but as you mentioned, there is hope in the future. Your beautiful poem made me sad, poor old grand oak tree. Living in this Texas heat, trees are sacred in my opinion. Who would trade it for corn indeed….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan May 29, 2017 / 10:48 am

      Thanks, Lana. We’ve been walking our dogs past that oak tree for fifteen years at least, enjoying it through the changing seasons. He was like an old friend. He didn’t leaf out much last year and this year, it’s obvious he’s a goner. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  5. K E Garland June 6, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    Joan, the last part of what you’ve said related to cancer is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now. I wonder why others don’t think it odd that soooo many people have developed this disease? It’s definitely telling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 6, 2017 / 4:07 pm

      For sure, KE. Cancer could be the result of a lot of things — toxic food or water or air, chemicals we come in contact with (everything from soap and hair coloring to Chem-Lawn), radiation from “wireless” devices, the list goes on… Most of our cancer research dollars are spent on finding cures rather than the causes. Thanks to lobbyists and big pay-offs, the government does nothing to curtail the use of farm pesticides and GMOs and antibiotics, and doesn’t even require labeling to alert consumers. It’s as if Big Ag and Big Pharma are in cahoots; our food gives us cancer, which provides a steady market for chemotherapy drugs. There is a strong financial incentive to keep the public from finding out what causes cancer, because if people knew what to avoid, they would avoid it. 🙂


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