Surrounded by Sunflowers - by Lowell Herrero
Not this Cow!
© 2002 by PJ Nights

    after Philip Levine

Arabella chews her cud -
most mornings, contented enough
but suddenly the deal loses appeal,
teats tugged calf-less by cold steel

and she looks at them all,
black-on-white, flank-to-flank -
from her neighbor next-door
to the one after that and after that,
and asks herself now

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Am I a cow?

a question thatís answered
when she finds the stash
of moonshine mash and it makes her

†††††††††††††††IMPORTANT! UNIQUE!
†††††††††††††††Not a machine, not this cow!

she shouts in jubilation
while Fordís $5 a day
and horseless confabulations
silently swallow her Garden City fields
and the menís pride - the American plan?
We hear softly now

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Am I a man?

Whitey swaggers, just sixteen,
runs Ďhot diamondsí down the canal
behind Chateau LaSalle,
not for the bloody Purple Gang
whose members hang out in the shvitz
while they kibitz,

but for his father and his fatherís friends
that their cups might hold
a splash of gin or, just as fine,
hooch made from moonshine mash, no less,
and shake off the one-into-the-otherness
of that assembly line

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††in a blind pig,
in hours the Gray Ghost began,
a dissolution of the foot-weary jig,
a chorus, a toast

†††††††††††††††††††††††††Not a machine, not this man!

Lotus Blooms Journal December '02