Jim Barton


These are God's vineyards;
He sowed these wild grapes Himself,
draping them as garlands
from the tree-crowns,
tendrils trailing
like lovers' fingers
hovering above a thirsting earth.

Here, in the late sun
and smothering dust of August,
I prop my ladder
against the pines,
an aluminum stairway to Heaven's
prizes, hanging heavy.

Below, where they've overwhelmed
the bushes, they are almost
wholly ghost-like,
dusted in the wake
of four-wheeler saints
and pick-up pilgrims
out for a Sunday ride.

But, up here,
in the canopy,
where squirrels fly and birds
take rest from flying,
the fruit hangs plump and dark, and
the pungent musk
sends me soaring
over the vaunted vineyards of men:
     the sun-kissed hills of California,
     the lush, looping valleys of France,
     the stairstep terraces of Italy,
and it is enough for me
to see, to touch, to taste, to know
that here, in my little piece
of the sun-parched South
grow God's grapes--
and they are very good.

Jim Barton
Huttig, Arkansas
JIM BARTON, 55, Huttig, a chemical laboratory technician is, by avocation, a poet's poet. He wins so many categories in so many poetry contests that both judges and poets who belong to the groups that sponsor the contests gasp, “Who is this guy?” Read his poem to see why! Jim's zodiac sign is Scorpio.