What one man can’t do alone
is easy work for two.
You told me that one day
after a long week of sun and sweat
when you joined your strength with mine
to fill the barn with hay.
you and I have chopped and hauled
the wood for this winter’s heat
and filled the smokehouse
with hams and good side meat.
We’ve caulked your cabin’s walls
and patched the roof on mine.
We’ve cleared another field
packed off all the rocks,
plowed to make it for next year’s crop.
We’re praying we are ready
for whatever the weather brings
between this good harvest
and planting time next Spring.
Brother, you work with me
the whole year long,

Together, we make it through.

If the Lord don’t hear my voice alone,

He will when I sing with you

published: Ozarks Mountaineer September/October, 1990


Every evening,
John Groves, brush arbor preacher,
reads his bible.
Sometimes he sits on the porch
and reads by the last low sun.
When the wind blows cold,
he sits inside the log cabin
built with his own two hands
and reads by the lantern’s glow.
In summer,
he hoes a five acre patch of tomatoes
and corn in hardscrabble ground.
Come fall,
he makes fifty gallon of sorghum
molasses to sell in a flatland town.
Winter, –
he turns oak logs into cash money
with his ax and his crosscut saw.
He works every day
from the first light of dawn
til evening when he sits
with the Good Book in hand
letting the Lord’s Words fill him
for Sunday’s preaching.
One time he left Long Creek,
but soon returned.
“Life’s too hard outside the hills,”
says John Groves,
“a man can’t make his own way.
Not even with the help of God
and the W.P.A.”

published: Ozark Mountaineer January/February 1991

3 Responses to Poetry

  1. Linda Siekman says:

    Just so moving! I have been back to read this over several times! Thank you for posting it Carolyn…

  2. Carolyn says:

    I’m glad you like it. John Groves was a real person. He was featured in a National Geographic article about the Ozarks. A local artist in Fulton, Mary Randolph, saw his photo and did an oil painting of him reading his bible. Later we were both involved in an “artistic conspiracy” exhibit put on by the writers group and the art league. I wrote the poem to hang next to her painting at the exhibit.

  3. These are wonderful! Thank you for pointing them out to me. I love them.

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