A few examples of poetry by Ryan Dennis.

The Old Hauler

(appeared in Threepenny Review, and then Poetry Daily)



(Appeared in Poetry Ireland Review Issue 98, Fusion Volume 2, Issue 1 and Poetry New Zealand Issue 40)

The Words of a Farmer on Monday


It is the commerce of farmers with hands in their pockets.

It is used by old wives

and the things they’ve known not having.

The stains in his pants are scattered language,

and scars the marks of punctuation.

To speak he must harvest the fields for syllables

and the cries of calves for meaning.


The things he says become the atmosphere

that romances the clover each rain.

They fill the woodchuck holes

to save the haybine from trial.


The radio does its best in the absence of terms.

Sometimes cows are lonely things to sing to.


Talk of spiritual ties to the land,

of wholesome ways of living

and it hurts his ears.

He disappears each time.


In a few words he knows who you are,

and he’s reminded who he is.

You both turn away.


Now that you’ve met the farmer you know his story.

He has told you in personal algorithm:

He dies, losing his farm, losing his mind,

but to a single morning star

he doesn’t give up the words

that have held him this long.



(Appeared in Poetry Ireland Review Issue 98 and Fusion Volume 2, Issue 1)


The Words of a Farmer on Tuesday


He walks the morning stars to the barn

to wake cows from their dreams,

full of things he might not say that day.


Sometimes his words collect together like pigeons huddled on rafters.

Sometimes they wear on the inside of his chest,

like dirt alleys in a paddock.


A few words he gives to his wife over coffee

swell into a pragmatic humanity

that glides through the fields

and over the heads of clover.


Sometimes his words are like broken haybines

that won’t cut the grass.


Finally, he has too many words and must die.

It is too hard for air

to filter through packed sentences in his rib cage.


Silence: he makes his final offering to the world.


“Hell smells like teat dip.”

“Milk 71 in the bucket.”

“I am culled.”


(Appeared in Poetry Ireland Review Issue 98 and Fusion Volume 2, Issue 1)



The Words of a Farmer on Wednesday


He shouts to get them to their feet.

He curses their sicknesses, their obstinacies, their dead calves, and their grain costs.

He calls them when he feeds them.

These are sounds that don’t make a story.


He pulls on his dirty pants in stiff, difficult motions.

It reminds him his legs are embalmed with teat dip.


He climbs the steps of his death bed,

which sounds like a tractor.


He gathers a concluding breath and holds it to contemplate his endowment.

If he says anything it will be lost in a heavy rattle

that plows through commas.

He can only exhale in compliance.


His corpse reseeds the field.