Ask A Poet

It was a cold fall farm morning

the kind where

you see everyone’s last breath

the cow in the barn

pulled up from the straw

by the nose,

the steam rising up and disappearing

god knows where.


I was 9 or 10 years old

enthralled by Mr. Sparling’s

Popeye like forearms and dark beard

watching as he

put a bullet into the cow,

the cow just standing there

screaming, screaming

like cows scream.


Mr. Sparling slowly walking over to

the barn door

like this wasn’t the first time

nor the last

walking back with an axe

in his right hand

then lifting it and smacking it

backside up into

the cow’s forehead,

the cow kneeling down and

with a few more Viking style whacks

rolling over silent .


Now many years and many deaths later

thinking of this

of Layton’s bull calf too

thinking of

my own time and space

and that

there are no winners.

Go ask Cesar.

Go ask Marilyn.

Go ask a card dealer.

Go ask a grave digger.

Go ask a good poet.


Tonight when I watch

the news

the body bags, the car wrecks,

the heavy eye shadow

on the newscaster,

when I watch all that

like Li Po

I’ll drink my wine

and laugh from the belly

and dream of my

pink row boat in the sky.


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