The day I was born, my father punched
a cow’s mouth. His hand shattered
like young eggs. No one knows
what became of the cow. Probably continued
its silent cowing. But in this poem, a farmer
advertised in town cow for sale; good producer,
awkward grin. People, as they say, came
from all around to see the cow
that frowned. They stood in storefronts,
spat speculations and suppositions
for the sad cow’s depression. This
impressed the farmer to forget the cow
sale, go into retail, and sell cow photos—
cow in field; cow in repose; cow in descent.
Not only that, the cow’s milk went for 50 cents
and people came in droves. The farmer
got fat. All the while the cow chewed
grass and lived like any other
Eventually, as it will, word rattled
around about the cow that couldn’t
care less about happiness. A psychologist
knowledgeable about such behaviors
believed it to be blue. A milk maid said
she knew its hay needed more flavor.
The padre believed its faith was shaken
and should be baptized. He led the cow
and those to bear witness to the cattle pond
where no cow had been brought to Jesus
before. When it was done,
the cow mooed and everyone said it
was good. The psychologist carted his case
of snap shots and ink blots back
East from where he’d come. The milk maid
left for greener pastures, feeling her work had
been done. The padre, who had his own
flock to look after, left the cow
to its own small world but prepared
for the sweet hereafter.
Eventually, as it does, gum will forfeit
its flavor, soda will lose its fizz, and frowning
cows fall out of favor, celebrity being
what it is. On and on and by and by
the townspeople stopped speculating
and wondered what was it that inspired
their excitement. They took to new
interests, and the cow photos sat unsold,
and no one came anymore save a few children
who lobbed dirt clods at the cow’s side.
The cow grew old, it’s milk dried
up, and after a time, the farmer bought
That’s just the way cow poems are.
The Divorce Attorney Tells Him How It Is
You will imagine
that you have a point.
You will imagine
that you have a point and
that it is valid. Each morning
she will brew coffee
with your valid points.
You will want to call
her—don’t. You will want
to call her—don’t think you
won’t hear a village of voices
when she answers. This is your
chorus of defeat.
You will be told you don’t
listen. You will be told you
don’t listen but you won’t
be listening. You’re not
You will imagine beautiful women
want you. You will imagine beautiful
women want you to act
in ways women wouldn’t.
Women are impatient optimists.
You will listen to sad music. You
will listen to sad music because
you think beautiful women want
you to listen to sad music. Women
hate sad music.
You will have regret. You will
have regret that you never had
a valid point or learned to brew
a good cup of coffee.
You will ache like rust.