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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

04 April, 2005

animal tales 1 : the doubting cow

Looking at the world from the perspective of animals
is an ancient tradition dating back to Aesop and the
Hitopadesa. In poetry, the most memorable animal
commentator in my view is the cockroach "Archy",
a vers libre poet who types by jumping down from
a height onto Don Maquis' typewriter, while his
friend, the cat "Mehitabel", sings of being a free
spirited woman... Since Don Maquis is not easy to
find these days, I am quoting these two extracts
from his book "Archy and Mehitabel":

a louse i
used to know
told me that
millionaires and
bums tasted
about alike
to him


i scurry around gutters and sewers
and garbage cans said the fly
and gather up the germs of typhoid influenza
and pneumonia on my feet and wings...
then i carry the germs
into the households of men...
.. it is my mission
to help rid the world of these wicked persons
i am a vessel of righteousness
scattering seeds of justice and serving the noblest uses

Well... here are some attempts, both
written this morning ...


the doubting cow

yesterday I had a revelation
while talking to a cockroach
that had scuttled
across the roof of my stall
to perch very near my nose.
"hello", he said,
his antenna twitching iridiscent
in the evening light
"hello", I said, startled
a bit, but you know how we cows
are always civilized.
And then we talked of
the fate of the world
and we animals who live on it.
it seems the other day
he had had a narrow escape
from a nasty gecko
an experience which
had made him philosophical
about our purpose in life
I told him thank god
there are no predators
for us cows

but then that cockroach
pointed out our fate,
how this animal, man,
comes every morning,
fondling my breasts
in full public gaze
what dignity do we have
when he steals my milk
and my baby
moans hungry in the corner
soon, he said, that cockroach,
my baby will be eaten as beef.

i don't know if i should
believe these slimy creatures
these gutter-loving cockroaches
yet there was a seed of doubt
he left behind in me. all these days
I had felt happy,
I had thought this
two-legged animal was really
my friend. I had looked forward
to his touch - I loved the relief
from the fullness of milk
in my breasts... i wonder now
what kind of a world
this is, where we cows
not only have this predator,
but we are indeed born
into his clutch,
living merely at his whim...

sometimes I wish
I hadn't met that dratted
philosophizing cockroach.



Anonymous Anamika said...

Really good. Enjoyed it. I do love reading you. Dont remember if I left a comment on your earlier post (outpourings of words as you woke up in the night swimming in the river), but that was a very good post too. Raw, straight from the mind ... Reminded me of one of Beckett's prose pieces.

04 April, 2005 12:29  
Blogger livinghigh said...

ummm... so am i the cow or the cockroach? think both are in de same boat, na? ;-)

04 April, 2005 12:52  
Blogger livinghigh said...

ummm... so am i the cow or the cockroach? think both are in de same boat, na? ;-)

04 April, 2005 13:04  
Blogger zigzackly said...

Good job on the style and the feel, Khuto.
But a nitpick. Archie couldn't use the shift key, so his poems had no upper case letters or punctuation. You've dispensed with upper case, except for "I," and "And" in the middle of the first stanza. What's the rationale here?

09 April, 2005 01:48  

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