"One day, you'll grow up
And you'll make a lot of friends
Or maybe you won't
Maybe you'll just have a few tight buddies
But if anyone tries to change you
you don't need them
You're amazing the way you are"
I told her
She looked up at me
With large, doeful eyes
Nuzzled me and mooed as if to say
"I'm not sure what you just said
But I think I understood it"
As I rubbed her head and ears
At least I can give life advice to a Jersey heifer
Before my program ends and I go back home
In March, she pushed a shining black calf
Into the world, and watched as it staggered
To wobbling legs waiting for her to rise.
Unable to rise.
My brother and his wife
Bottle fed the calf for several weeks,
Waiting for a miracle,
For which the two had prayed,
And then one day the mother stood
Weak, shaking, but on the mend.
A couple weeks more,
And she was down again,
Stuck in front of the barn
With barely an appetite,
Drinking water from a bucket,
Resting upright in her own mess.
The calf was doing fine.
June 1 came, and field work to do,
My brother, ever patient, could wait no more.
Loaded his old 30-30 and headed to the barn.
He scratched the cow's forehead,
Told her she had been a good bossy,
And that he was sorry, and then looked at her.
He turned and emptied the rifle on the way to the house.
"Lord, it would sure do me a favor
If you were just to take her
So I wouldn't have to shoot her."
He returned to the barn and hayed the bulls.
On his way back to the water tank, he stopped
By his old friend and looked at her.
The cow raised her head,
And while my brother watched,
Her eyes rolled up and back.
She sighed deeply, and then her head
Sagged down and she was gone.
He called me shortly after,
Still a little bit in awe,
A little bit in pain,
Glad to have me listen,
Though both our mouths were dumb
At the way God's prayers are answered,
And the ways His answers come.
The rain taps against my windshield as I drive through the countryside.
Landscape zooming past my eyes left and right. Driving let's me think about life's big questions.
As I pass a herd of cows lying in the grass I wonder; do cows have thoughts?
But then I question; do cows wonder?
Is it possible cows wonder when that fence they stand near will fall?
Do they wonder if the wind will ever be so strong as to tip them over?
It seems odd to think about the cows in this way. After all they do not wonder about me as I drive past.
They just moo and stare at the blurry image of my speeding car.
Now I pass a field of horses.
Do horses wonder?
First day on the road: a long one. Sleepy as hell in my
motel room (which, of course, is not mine at all. This is the
uncomfortable part of traveling. Sleeping somewhere so cold
and impersonal; I can’t call it unfamiliar, only generic. At
least it is fairly clean), I recall the drive up to Redding
(where we are staying the night) as nothing but dry grass and
a few cows scattered here and there. Well, more than a few.
Cramped together. Uniform. Beings, entities; living, breathing capital.
A young man on the radio explains his habit of recording
everything. He isn’t alive when he isn’t recording.
Of course, he’s missed out on a lot of his life. I find it a sad
story, though he is, he says, learning to cherish his unrecorded moments.
It is good to be away. I can breathe again.
Sometimes my house constricts and chokes me.
I become rather blue. Crave adventure.
Here it is, apparently.
There isn't much left.
That's the way it is sometimes.
You plan and plan
for the day
when there won't be any,
and yet you're still surprised
when there isn't much left
in the end.
My days are not like seven fat cows
or seven skinny ones.
My days are like veal.
They're slaughtered young,
and at night I feast upon them.
Some nights I can sleep contentedly afterwards..
I lay awake unable to dream at all.
Guilt keeps me awake.
I've become a kosher butcher of time!
Often my own.
That's the way it is sometimes.
There isn't much left.
So I plan and plan
trying to postpone the day
when there won't be any.
Morning smells of Lilacs rapture me,
Taking me back to Kinderhooks Chatham Street….June 21st 1961……not a cloud in the sky.
Lying in bed I open my eyes to the hum of a window fan.
And in the distance I hear a Hudson River barge blast its horn.
This moment in time, well it brings tears to my eyes.
Eleven years old, brown hair, hazel eyes, a toothy smile,
Grins in the mirror, hoping to find a whisker or two…
My cat Oscar sits there on the sink purring out his contentment.
“Oscar” I say, “today I leave for the Freedom Farm”
The Freedom Farm is the one place where I’m free to be me
Without the fear of a negative comment or a boot in my ass
I climb aboard the Greyhound bus with suitcase in hand, And looking down at Mom and Dad....I wave…. So Long Suckers!!
Walton NY, June 22nd, Dunk Hill Road, the smell of cow shit,
The land of Milk and Honey, Fields of four leaf clovers and 10’ corn stalks.
It was here that all my friends lived, Shorty the horse, Mrs Blue the Holstein,
And there was Uncle Ike, Aunt Minnie and 9 Cousins. I loved them all!
On this little dairy farm……my potential was unlimited,
Uncle Ike taught me to drive the Tractor, water the heifers,
Milk the cows, shovel shit, spread manure and have some damn fun!
Hell Uncle Ike even let me try a piece of his plug tobacco... (Note to self…Just say No Thanks next time)
A summer filled with character building experiences and an eight year olds understanding of work ethic.
But we still had plenty of time for fun and cousin bonding.
My Cousin Tom taught me to ride the cows and honed my spitting skills.
And in my downtime I'd perfect the finer points of armpit farting,
Four weeks of heaven on earth where nothing was impossible.
*Once you work on a farm you get dirt in your shoes. And when you get dirt in your shoes, you can never get it out!"
I got up in the morning
Only to realize that my cows were going to be sold at the auction
I felt lost and cried because I hate animal cruelty
My cows are lost and I'm here thinking, why should cows be treated in such cruelty?
All I know, is that my cow looked around and around... Only to find himself lost within the multitude of other cows
Now it's lost and I won't see my cows ever again because they were taken away
Now I'm lost in my heart and mind while I listen to the crickets chirp and chirp because I know they're lost and I can't take them back
I really wish people understood how much pain animal cruelty causes me and now I'm lost within this world
On Sunday, my S.O. and I
Drove to see Chorus Line
At the Stratford Festival.
A matinee. Beautiful day.
We left the Refineries of Sarnia
For fine entertainment.
The Avon flows gently
Buoying white swans gracefully.
Blah... blah... blah.
All very real.
You can see why it's called, Stratford;
There could be no other name.
A good choice.
Best Shakespearean Festival in N.A.
She explained all this to me on the drive.
If contrary people suffer
From low self-esteem, I didn't help
As we drove through rich, green farmland,
She asked why some barns
Have ramps leading to the barn doors.
Well, says I,
The farmers, because of the economy,
Have to sell their livestock in parts,
So the ramps give easy access for the animals
Back to their stalls.
Huh, said S.O.
That's so thoughtful!
Timing is everything.
Sincerity in voice, critical.
Hurry on to a new topic.
Someday, for sure, she'll tell someone, somewhere
About the considerate farmer.
Like the kick line.
Like a punch line.