A Writing Prompt, Cows

Today, I attended a master class taught by Elmaz Abinader (she is, just so you know, my new most favorite person in the wholest widest worldest of worlds). She’s here along with Andrew Lam, Tim Bascom, and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley for a panel on social engagement at Pitt (if you click on that last link it will take you to an article in the Pitt News that features an interview with yours truly––although my name is not spelled correctly). Pitt’s been bringing in some swanky people lately, we had Philip Gourevitch and Jonathan Safran Foer last week. It’s been a bit awesome. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Today I attended a master class with Elmaz Abinader. She handed out pictures and had us write a prompt, a reaction to pictures of provocative/politicized events while considering silence as a theme. My picture was the one below: a dead cow in a metal-enclosed pen––its calf a few feet away, watching. I had to consider silence. So, I grabbed my pen and wrote on the print-out: (1) This cow is dead. Just brainstorming. But then I went with it, and I’m a little proud of my work. I thought about the PETA voice and the farmer voice, but then I thought about someone that was silent, the farmer’s son.  I went even further with that and this is what came out. So I thought I’d share it with you today.

Cow Poem

“Things I Shouldn’t Say.”

  1. This cow is dead. My father owns the farm. This cow is dead like other cows before it.
  2. This is a calf. It is not the calf’s fault the mother is dead. The calf will die too. The calf does not know this.
  3. You can clean blood with coca-cola. Otherwise it’s difficult to remove.
  4. This trough feeds cows. These cows feed me. This trough feeds me. Does it matter how?
  5. I don’t think I’d like being locked in my room. Running around is fun.
  6. I’ve always wanted a multi-colored coat. Sometimes I wish I was a cow.
  7. You must quarter the beast and drain blood soon or the meat is inedible.
  8. My father says Jell-O comes from hooves. All this Jell-O will one day be mine.
  9. Do they moo differently when they know they aredying. Do they know what death is, can they tell that nature had it different––why do I call them “they.” My father says that a cow is an it like a plastic container or a grocery store, a robot, a machine. 9.2: the heart is right here.
  10. A leopard thinks itself more important than an antelope. That may not be true. I can’t say.