The sheep have flocked to the water’s edge
and now they weep
not knowing how to swim.

Above them in the usual skies, a crow
caws mockingly:
Fools! You were herded here by lies!

But now the sheep have come to love
the melodrama of
their bleating cries. Don’t judge, wallow

in the comfort of a group-think nudge.
Sheep will be sheep—
still, it’s hard to sympathize.

72 responses »

  1. Alas! it wouldn’t happen if more followed what the University of Michigan Law School gone ‘n done: their “post-election self-care” event included coloring sheets, play dough, legos, and bubbles.

    • Poor lambs….they’re only preparing to be defenders and prosecutors of murderers.. And you’d better watch out, Bruce, or your ironic sense of humor will have hurled against you—by people who don’t even know you— all those invective -phobe labels.

  2. Oh, what a relief to read this. Baaaaaaa! Those sheep will leave little muddy tracks at the water’s edge and perhaps even drink if they recover their senses, which isn’t particularly likely, is it?

  3. And you’ve done it again Cynthia. To the point yet so deep. And the experience is quite universal too, have seen similar things in other countries, maybe the sheep are having a laugh 🙂 🙂

    • I would imagine your travels over the globe recently gave you lots of insight as to just how universal the sheep phenomenon may be. It would be good to hear them laugh! Many thanks, Shubha

  4. Very hard. Pity the sheep are too dumb to think of anything other than the instant gratification of giving a ‘hoof’-up to the establishment …

      • Golly gosh, I did enjoy that little voyage into the dark, dank alleys of my past! Thank you most kindly, Cynthia. By the way, when I think of your name, I pronounce it in the Italian manner, so you become Cheen-tee-ah.

        • My former partner’s grandmother, who came here from Sicily as a sixteen-year-old, already with a husband and a baby, and worked behind the scenes in the family bakery all her life so that she never had much opportunity to speak a lot of English (TV wasn’t so ubiquitous then)—–she also pronounced my name that way. I won’t get into the matter of how the immigrant French or Irish pronounced it. It’s a wonder I knew who I was….

      • Hello Cynthia.
        thankyou I love this. MY father was told by the world that he sang like Crosby and indeed he did.I dont have this in my music collection but will go after it.
        This isnt a joke by the way.

  5. Very successful poem Cynthia. I admire the way you have taken the raw emotional response to a particular occurrence and transmuted it so that it might serve different times and places. Well done you.
    Something else comes to mind. Ah yes: “all we like sheep … have gone astray”. Mostly we want to sing “all they like sheep” !! That’s not very helpful though is it!? Sorry about that. Ignore me.

    • Thanks, John. I just got up yesterday morning and wrote it, to get something off my chest. I know what I meant but, quite apparently by the comments, it carries different things for different people. I’m tickled when that happens.
      “Baaa…baaa..baaa..” .as the Wiffenpoof song sings… but… sorry, I’m certainly not about to ignore you.

  6. Much can be said about that herd instinct. It is a pity when there is no decent shepherd to nurture. Perhaps the complaining baas will never cease although, as you imply, the sheep may forget why they began and wallow in their utterance. Life, apparently, goes on, seemingly as before!

  7. One strategy to remain apolitical (arguably a necessity in this postmodern mashup we live in) is to systematically throw out all incumbents on any given election, make some tea, and have a few biscuits. It’s still sheepish, but that’s the nature of democracy.

      • How about tea and Turkish Delight (anything with powdered sugar is diabolic), which is sinful itself, thereby nullifying the corrosive effect of politics–for the sheep and non-sheep among us.

        • Oh dear, Prospero, I am not sure about that in my own case. I am not a fan of jellied candies—jelly beans, gummy bears, gum drops, etc.; they are so indecisive.The last time I had Turkish Delight,–just to be polite— the plethora of powdered sugar dusted my good black dress as if I had been in some sort of saccharine indoor snowstorm. There’s also the problem of the rosewater flavoring….somehow that always makes me think I have strayed into a garden plot and begun to eat the flowers….like a goat, or maybe a sheep…

          • I know, but it’s a little like asparagus–at first you think, hum, better leave it for the rabbits or chickens, but later you get to crave the stringy greenness just as you begin to crave the slightly perfumy and thus inedible tang of Turkish Delight. Sorry about the dress.

            • Asparagus reminds me of my dear departed dog, Chloë. After a brief zap in the microwave, an asparagus spear tossed in her direction was a sheer delight to her, albeit not a Turkish one. And remembering her brings me full circle with the memory of another of my dogs, Nero, a border collie who used to spend a lot of time trying to herd us, in the back yard. He knew instinctively I was a sheep. In sum, maybe we should just forget the tea and crumpets and just spend more time with dogs….purely apolitical par excellence!

  8. Very enjoyable, Cynthia – fabulously fabular. The rhyming seems quite effortless… It’s impressive to herd all those rhymes into a short and snappy poem. A good morning’s work!
    Some time ago I resolved not to get into political discussions online, but here I will go as far as to say, the satirical bite of your poem is well directed. Kudos again.

    • You are wise…I have also learned not to get into political discussions online. But I guess writing a poem is an autocratic act, rather than a discussion. It’s good when it serves a cathartic purpose for the author and still allows for different readers to see into it what they will, without the tooth and fang of a literal harangue…..probably one of the reasons the fabular genre was invented. Thanks, as always, Andy.

  9. I thought for a moment it was just my bruised mind reading meanings into this and thinking that all roads lead to Rome… but they do. You have so cleverly expressed some of the anger and despair and the need to somehow recover and redirect those sheep that so many of us, the world over, are feeling.

  10. Cynthia, this is succinct and powerful, and I love how you’ve expressed it with the sheep metaphor. And alas, it’s so true. These are scary times, threatening to take us backwards 100+ years. Damn the “electoral college”!

    (Sorry I haven’t had a chance to comment on your previous new poems. Loved them too!)

  11. Brilliant, Cynthia, an object lesson on how to write a political poem. Brief, spiky, memorable. And universally relevant, that’s the thing. Your sheep are everywhere, including here in the UK…

    Poor misguided creatures. Pity them when the consequences hit home. Their belated bleating will serve only to set teeth on edge.

    Have a good weekend Stateside.

    My very best from North Wales.


    • I don’t usually mix politics and poetry, but on rare occasions a little poem seems to fall together by itself, perhaps out of some inner need to exist. That was the case, here, and I’m happy to hear that you like and appreciate it, Paul. Thank you very much, and do have a good weekend, you too!

  12. I was about to give you a whiff of the Whiffenpoof Song when I noticed that you’d already done so for Yvonne….but, since my clip selection is, in its own impromptu way, equally if not more affecting, I’ll take the plunge anyway:

    • Thank you for bringing this one along, mistermuse, To listen to both renditions is interesting. This one is more maudlin than the Bing Crosby one, but I suspect that may be because the singers are older, slower, and sadder. As you say, in some ways maybe more “affecting.”

  13. There are many allegories of sheep in the Bible, and often the sheep go astray. I believe in humans, and I believe in the future. The moment of disappointment should become an empowering moment instead. I am sending positive thoughts to all the people of America in my prayers every day.

  14. Thank you so much. I grew up in the land of the “poor little lambs” and they were so polished, so arrogantly certain of their superiority. Some of them were—William Sloane Coffin was a “poor little lamb” and so was Cole Porter. But then again so was Prescott Bush, the father and grandfather of 41 and 43. Brava on a brilliant social commentary!

    • Only with trepidation do I venture into social commentary…but I know well the “poor little lambs” of whom you speak…both the ones genuinely elite, and the more widely scattered rest of the bunch who now exercise their sense of superiority by self-righteous, condescending labelling of people and preaching to them how they ought to think and feel…even onto the Broadway stage! Thanks, my friend.

  15. Hello Cynthia.
    I met you in Prosperos Ariel’s blog where I was self deprecating.
    Seriously for a moment( I know I am cheating in saying that) I am always going on and on about sheep consciousness There doesnt seem to be a way out of this.It seems to be at the heart of all human problems.but now you have led me to the resurrecting light.YES fianally I have it. The sheep have to learn to swim!
    thankyou for the smile.

  16. Such a lyrical dirge on the state of affairs! The metaphor of sheep and their blindfolded ventures is both befitting and boisterous. I enjoyed a lot the vantage point offered by you.

  17. What can we do, but hunker down into poetry and other good things and send a prayer to the gods of woods and fields? Our election system doesn’t allow for independent thought really. Still, I am terrified that all the work of my lifetime in American Indian education is at threat. I’ve started to travel to New Mexico to help out at the university now once a month, but putting a thumb in the dike doesn’t seem like a successful strategy. O, the sheep, the sheep, Cynthia. I hope we are living in a story where everything comes out alright after a time of testing, tribulation, and turmoil.

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