Herding Cows

Money drives the cows in this land.
A treacherous sea of willing souls
Aimless and perfunctory.
Frightened by the mill
That churns their bodies,
They have no other movement
But forward.
It is not a movement we would recognize:
To carry arms and play army.
But, it seems that most men
Have no purpose in America,
Don’t measure their actions,
Don’t take account of what they are doing.
From Mexico to Oregon,
The grass-fed cows walked.
Their loins lean and their
Flesh gamey.
What was weird was how
What fat they had was orange
And twisted.
It coated the system with
A plaque that only angioplasty
Could remove.
The doctor, if they made it that far,
Would take a simple wire
With a sharp tip and bang the insides
Of the aorta and all the plaque would
Be absorbed by the body.
Their hearts were still at risk;
Once you dislodged the truth,
It was possible that it would migrate
To the brain and cause a stroke.
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7 comments

  1. I like this poem. It resonates and is critical of America and the system. I think we, the people, are often driven like these cows. I find these lines very beautiful: “A treacherous sea of willing souls/ Aimless and perfunctory.” Actually the whole poem is lovely, very eloquent. I also like the vehement end.

  2. On the end…
    It was said “You’ll know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free”. So, if a truth causes s.o. a brain stroke, there might be s.th. wrong in it? Is it any truth that has the power to set people free? or, is everybody ready and willing to be free?

    • Thank you Comtearnau for your comment. The truth will set you free. In this poem, the fat (orange) refers to Trump (or any Corporate-beholden president, except that Trump had financial ties). (“It coated the system with/A plaque that only angioplasty/Could remove.”) The wire took it off the walls of the aorta and set it free. But, this build-up caused by stress and poor diet, no exercise of oneself, that is, taking responsibility for facing and dealing with lies, in other words, not supporting a regime that wrongfully went to war, or in this case installed the Dakota pipeline despite that it is assumed to inevitably pollute the Missouri River. The build-up from lying, in effect, of denying the truth causes a stroke where plaque can migrate to the brain once set free, noting a connection/consequence to the heart. The truth therefore in this case was to initially deal with what causes stress, at that point, it has the power to set one free, and no obviously not everyone is ready and willing to be set free. Note all the soldiers who went to Iraq under by virtue of a false claim of yellow cake uranium or in the case of Dakota Access Pipeline, where it is assumed that the river would be polluted.

  3. This line:
    But, it seems that most men
    Have no purpose in America

    There is a lot of discussion about failings of the modern patriarchal structure, but rarely do we consider with compassion the painful source of this structure. Our connection to the earth, to our community and to ourselves as men. I love the ending in that it describes how truth works. The greater our ignorance, the greater the pain of realizing the truth. “Father, please forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    • “The Painful source of this structure,” you say is a disconnection to earth, our community, and ourselves? I would love to hear how you think my ending describes how truth works: “The greater our ignorance, the greater the pain of realizing truth?” Is that what you mean? When I think of the police/soldiers who helped the company install the Dakota Pipeline, I feel they are caught between two views. As soldiers are victims of the intelligence and actions of their superior officers, police less so, I always believe that there are gray areas that are more black and white, and while this is the problem of our media and getting at the truth, often we rely on what we feel, which of course is not enough. Kant argued this position in his Critique of Reason. We often do not have all of the facts. The companies claim that America must “Provide for our own energy needs with our own natural resources, personnel and infrastructure.” (Taken from: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/energy-environment/295216-why-we-must-build-the-dakota-access-pipeline-now) Versus the Native Indian perspective, which includes: 1. Tribal consultation requirements need to be reformed; 2. Tribes everywhere are pressured by extractive industries; 3. The Trump administration is possibly exploring the privatization of some tribal lands; 4. It is unclear the extent to which the #NoDAPL movement educated anyone; and 5. US colonialism is not over. (Taken from: http://theconversation.com/five-reasons-why-the-north-dakota-pipeline-fight-will-continue-in-2017-70782) As you say, the problem is a “modern patriarchal structure,” I say capitalism, as a specific manifestation. So these men and women serving a greedy few cannot see the Indian way, which is that we must ween ourselves off destroying the land, specifically of polluting the water, and move toward sustainable resources, like solar, for our energy needs. The position with more light is the one, pardon the pun, with more sunlight. This type of energy use, would not coat the heart in plaque as a metaphor. In that we may garner energy from meat, but the choice of eating vegetables actually remedies our problem on all sustainable levels. These soldiers, like us in many ways, I might add, are led to the slaughter. If we are going to change the system, we have to become spiritual leaders of our people and not those who would willingly sacrifice others (people, animals, and the land, for example) for their short-term gain. Thank you.

  4. Yes, to the word disconnection. Everyone is called to where they want to make a difference in the world, and I don’t find myself attracted to politics as my method, although I agree with all you wrote above. My “activism” is more on the personal level, working on my own integrity, on my own habit patterns, and being an example of what I want to see in the world. That said, I did recently make a commitment to advocating and working with seniors.

    In regards to your question as to what I meant about what I took as a description of how truth works in your poem……the greater our ignorance, the greater the pain of realizing the truth…In my life, there are those places where I would not or could not bring to awareness, that were buried so deep that they just ran me from behind the curtain, and once brought to light, could virtually kill me. Kill me in the sense that, “Oh my God, what have I been doing? I have been such an asshole,” or, “My God, my actions caused so much pain in the world, and I had no idea!” I feel some suicides occur when a person is unable to handle the truth that has been revealed to them. There are soldiers, politicians, policeman, bankers, everyday people who have these moments. It is important to be around people who come to these realizations.

    They open a doorway to our own subconscious, reminding us that it is possible to make that kind of change. Shame for some is a useful tool, and perhaps used in a certain way, it is able to achieve an awareness. I have been shamed in this way, and it did wake me up, however, it also caused a certain level of trauma that I had to heal in order to be more responsive rather than reacting from guilt.

    I think that your observation about to what extent the #NoDAPL movement actually educated people is a good one. I have asked myself often whether educating someone is a valuable endeavor unless they truly are interested in being educated. I don’t have an answer. My spiritual teacher made every effort to “educate” me, and I made every effort to be educated, but in the end, there were so many things that I just had to find out for myself. I am in the midst of exploring what I learned from that.


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