The goats go from the sun to shade
and those with collars nibble grass
while their kids, uncollared, pass
along the paths their elders made.
The voters vote in every town
while those who own the wealth of Spain
show an interest or feign one
in how the votes go down.
The almond and the medlar trees
shade the flock of goats and sheep
and frame the fields where shepherds sleep
off lunches of light wine and cheese
Miami eats the Everglades.
The hot swamp’s old talaria,
mosquitoes and malaria,
can’t match the workmen’s boots and spades.
A goat springs from a terrace wall.
A wasp eats an entire bee
except its eyes and one bent knee.
A sheep can’t cope and takes a fall.
The votes Dade County owners count
are those that help them win
the war on nature, do it in
and build a better bank account.
Dogs fight each other for a yard
that one of them is tied in
Bees build a hive in earth that’s hard
in the field where sheep get dyed in.
We fly down south and order goat.
We buy the best-priced dream.
We laugh that we don’t need a coat
and eat fresh figs with cream.
Downwind from Winnebagos, big mistake,
we stake our claim for tent space, pounding pegs
into the rancid sand (a piece of cake)
and slap mosquitoes from our arms and legs
and ask ourselves how is it that the dregs
of as it were our high society
afford the biggest campers (they’re not free).
A sudden noise makes the gators rush,
the possums wince, the pink flamingos flee.
All nature quails when Winnebagos flush.
I have nothing to say. I write that down assiduously.
I used to think I’d be a writer when I’d themes
and wisdom, from experience. But, invidiously,
I’ve learned nothing matters as much as it seems
it will before I chase it hard and jealously.
The ending of the chase keeps best in dreams,
and here, in winter sunlight, by the sea,
I am happy saying nothing, merrily.
Haze eats the horizon as I stand my watch.
Flocked swallows settle in a second then
flit up into the one remaining swatch
of sky the storm clouds have not painted in.
A woman hangs wet watch to catch the wind.
A yellow duckling bobbles in boats’ wakes
and boys dive where the inner harbour takes
its leave of city and runs to the sea.
The grey comes down as softly as the flakes
of bridge paint that the rust and time set free.
The Drommedaris, built starting in 1540, is a historic fortress tower in Enkhuizen that is now used as a cultural centre and for special events.
A shadow, first this week, slips on the stones
and falls in place. The plaza comes to life.
A sparrow watches cats cart off the bones
of cutlets from the tasca. Sparrow’s wife
welcomes back the sun with song and cluck
and curtsies to the cats as they pad by,
pause to stretch, and wonder if their luck
extends to lunch on sparrow. Worth a try?
A lizard who’s anticipating flies
tries his tongue out, flicking at the light
reflecting from the broken glass that lies
where the waiter let it fall last night.
I let the hot cortado chase my yawn
and thanks my stars for sun. Altea dawn.
O haggis, hunkered halfway up the hill,
uneven legs in fore-and-aft matched pairs,
each to the other skewed like stick in plaice
before the batter’s up in golden ducks,
attend right-thinking running, circle up
or down the slope until the golden mean
of altitude, corrected for spare crags,
prevails, and you proceed goat-like to graze
at ease and restfully, your haggis rules
OK, exemplifying strange attractors,
repelling border colleens, collies, kilts,
and robber burns on ceremonial night.
And, haggis, try to live as if you’ve got
the grit required to stomach Mandelbrot.
IF the weather is nice where you are, please by all means go out and play. But if the sea is too cold or it’s raining, perhaps you could help me with these footnotes.
FOOTNOTES (so far, so good, so what):
1. ‘haggis’ — A delicate, delicious smallish creature hunted in the Highlands for its meet and for the hill of it. Pulled more successfully than birds by Dawkins shellfish jeans to the extent that its right legs (called Bermudas) are shorter than its left (called Levis).
2. ‘hunkered’ — Squatted down close to the ground, but not as in a squat. Unclear as to why this footnote is needed at all, except that one would have to renumber the rest (except one, ‘1’) were it taken out.
3. ‘skewed like stick in plaice’ — An impossible situation, like the impossible animal that exists (footnote 1), since a stick that is IN a plaice (large edible flat-bodied fish Pleuronectes platessa in European seas) can NOT be skewed (neither parallel nor intersecting) to said plaice. Cf. Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7, Macbeth’s castle:
MACBETH: If we should fail?
LADY MACBETH: We fail!
But screw your courage to the
And we’ll not fail.
4. ‘before the batter’s up in golden ducks’ — Before all the batter (for the plaice) has been used up playing with our food, making little golden-fried ducks. Alternatively, for those who find the first explanation not cricket, before the batsman’s or batswoman’s turn is up by being out with a nil score (from a ‘duck’s egg,’ shaped like a zero). There is of course a third and very important possibility relating back to the skew framework of the poet’s mind [sick? sic?] of batter as a transitive verb for building a wall or similar so as to form an upwardly receding slope ‘The Haggis Hunting Ground,’ but by now this footnote itself is getting battered beyond all redemption.
5. ‘attend right-thinking running’ — Admonishing the haggis to pay attention to conventional ideas of morality, propriety, and decorum whilst ALSO running to the right (otherwise it would turn its short legs to the downside of the hill and fall into the hunters’ sacks) and whilst ALSO concentrating to avoid coming too close to the perpendicular (and falling into the hunters’ sacks).
6. ‘circle up / or down the slope until the golden mean / of altitude’ — Advising the haggis (so that it may avoid falling into the hunters’ sacks) to find and keep to that aesthetically pleasing and just-right height (which the haggis computes on the trot, the ratio of the whole line to the larger part being exactly the same as the ratio of the larger part to the smaller part) where its leg-length challenge matches the mountain’s slope-flat challenge.
7. ‘haggis rules / OK’ — Reminiscent of the wonder which led one seeker of truth to The Linguist List, Eastern Michigan University dash Wayne State University to ask, on Saturday, 11 September at 09:22:06, ‘I’ve seen several British spray-painted slogans of the form “X rules OK” on walls and other outdoor surfaces. Can someone explain the syntax to me?’ He didn’t seem to get an answer.
8. ‘exemplifying strange attractors, / repelling’ — Attractors and repellers are, of course, WHAT THE WHOLE POEM IS ABOUT!
9. ‘border colleens, collies, kilts,’ — Since this is simply about complexity and chaos, it follows that we mix up the Borders — Scots going to Ireland, Irish girls coming back to Scotland, etc.
10. ‘robber burns on ceremonial night.’ — In Dutch ‘robber’ means ‘seal’ which is a red herring of another colour. The line itself should have Robert Burns whirling in Dumfries, which is only fair seeing how many poor little haggis have been hunted down over the years to accompany the mashed turnip, mashed potato, and mashed whisky at Burns Suppers. O, Immortal Memory.
11. ‘the grit required to stomach Mandelbrot’ — Somewhat at ‘out of the mouth (stoma) of Benoit’ but not very. More at ‘Fractal, fractal on the wall.’ I rest my case of Jacques Denials.