Poem: Running Past Brown Cows

By: Tom Roth

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I click my mouth and clap my hands
over the cold barbed wire fence
and they look at me
like I am the Holocaust. They have
conversations with their big black
eyes, asking if I am aware
of my own existence
outside of their unity. No questions
about who to go home with from
a local bar or how a high school football
friend is getting along with marriage
in Florida. Yesterday, I raked leaves
with my roommate whose girlfriend
lives in Manhattan. The daily phone call
was about smoothies
and Taco Bell. His father who lives down
the street pulled up to our leaf pile
and asked us about our cable
and if the Browns have a chance
and then he complained about driving
up to Cleveland with his wife
to have dinner with her friends
from college. They make a brown half circle
like they are posing for a family picture
taken by a nameless local. There is no
doubt in their eyes that tell me
they think they belong
together. And fear of death as
an absence of thought
is no more a concern
to the cows than the shreds
of grass between their teeth.
But they shit where they eat,
ignorant of their fates
consisting of yogurt cups
and porcelain dishes. Why they run,
turning their brown asses to me
when I reach out
my sweaty palm over the fence
to show them how much I
understand,
I don’t know.

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