Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape
by John Ashbery
Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape Summary
The speaker reads a secret message that hasn't been decoded yet. The message begins telling a story about Popeye, the cartoon sailor who always saves the day after eating a huge can of spinach. Popeye is sitting in a thunderstorm somewhere in the country, and nobody is thinking about him. Meanwhile, Popeye's friend, the Sea Hag, is sitting in Popeye's apartment with Wimpy. Both are characters from the Popeye television show. They are enjoying a vacation.
Thank goodness: Wimpy has brought the spinach – Popeye's favorite food. The party can begin. Except they sound very bored. They want to be inspired!
As Wimpy opens a can of spinach, Swee'pea, the baby from the Popeye cartoon, enters the apartment. He looks sad and has an unhappy note pinned to his bib.
Olive, a.k.a. Olive Oyl, enters the apartment through a window. She jumps over a flowerbed, and the geraniums scratch one of her long, skinny legs. She declares that she has news about Popeye. Apparently, Popeye was forced to flee the country because of some scheme of his father's. But he wants to be inside his apartment with his love interest (Olive) and favorite food (spinach), so his solution to the problem is to hurl "bolts of loving thunder." Well, that explains the thunder, at least.
Olive starts delivering a philosophical speech – things will never be the same, she says – but she suddenly grabs Swee'pea, the baby, threatening to take him out to the country. That's where Popeye is – we think. The Sea Hag wants the baby to finish his spinach first.
Olive is gone with the baby before the Sea Hag can finish voicing her objection. The Sea Hag begins to enjoy the peace and quiet. She thinks there is not so much to fear from spinach, after all. She considers inviting another character over, Alice the Goon, but worries that Wimpy's behavior might be an embarrassment.
Popeye's thunder grows louder and fills the apartment. The thunder is green like spinach. Popeye laughs, scratches his balls, and thinks how nice it is to spend a day in the country.