Thursday, January 14, 2010


This strange photo seemed strange enough to go with this rather strange poem. I took the photo at the Meenakshee Temple in Madurai. She's a fish-eyed goddess and all the images of her are of a green-skinned woman.

A boanthrope is a person who thinks she is a cow. This page dedicated to shape-shifters!

What she says about boanthropy

if you stand in the path of a boanthrope
you are bound to get hurt
they are said to be dangerously
out of their minds

imagined horns are almost as sharp
as real ones especially since these ones
are convinced of the reality of their horns

eating grass doesn’t mean peace and love to all creatures
were-wolves and were-cows are travellers
whose appetites are great
bedeck them in garlands and they will follow you

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mild mannered cows

When I was growing up, I often overheard my farmer parents talking about particular rogue sheep or cows. I remember a particular cow who was considered a troublemaker. This poem came about when I was thinking about how blame is deflected (especially by humans onto animals).

I took the photo of this cow in Hampi. It is wandering about and at this moment is heading into the temple. Its colour reminds me of that other rogue cow.

What the Mayor says

The cow that strays helps itself to all it gets.
Salma, The Hour Past Midnight. p. 399 New Delhi: Zubaan

this cow is asking for trouble
bringing disaster upon her own head
if she strays across the paddock
into another world where the grass is green
it’s her fault if it’s too rich for her

this cow is a troublemaker
a leader of the pack
you can tell it from her eyes
the way she looks at you
raising and lowering her head ready to fight

this cow is a wanderer
follows her nose along the tracks
ambles off toward the river
before you know it she’ll be bellowing
for rescue from the mud

this cow is untrustworthy
watch how she scrapes her hoof
in the red earth
watch if you will as she stands high
her horns reaching for the sky

a herd of rabble-rousers
and agitators here they come
a social menace
what are we to do
how can we be rid of these firebrands?