Somewhere To Go

There are times when the poet

needs an audience

even when there’s no one around

even when driving for miles along

a desolate interstate

knowing there is somewhere to go,

so the poet makes a spontaneous turn

onto a dirt road,

drives until grazing cows appear.

He pulls the car over, gets out—

air is still and hot, smells of

manure and dry grass.

He walks to fencepost, leans

against it, announces to the cows:

I have a new poem to share with you.

It doesn’t have a title yet, though.

Several of the cows “moo”

as they have been doing

since the poet’s arrival

(and prior to his arrival).

He recites the poem slowly,

carefully enunciating each word.

A horsefly circles his head,

a cow here and there

flashes eyes in his direction.

A wild thistle

in the middle of things

has its defenses, its space.

When the poet has finished

he notices that all the cows

are lying down now,

facing in different directions.

Is there a connection here?

Was something understood?!

Getting back into his car,

the poet continues on a more

confident journey, steering

his own words

with somewhere to go

with inspiration to turn onto

another unmarked road

along the way.

John Rowe

Honorable Mention Winner,

"Journeys" Category

Ina Coolbrith Circle's

88th Annual Contest, 2007

Published in Winsome Losesome

(Eventuality Press, 2010)

follow the cows

and you may begin

to understand

the land as they do—

moo your way into the crowd

and you may begin

to stand proud

as they do—

moo your way into the crowd

utter cow language—

under is the udder

swelling like a rain cloud—

moo your way into the crowd

milk it till drops turn to downpour

then follow the cows as they lie down now

and allow to be heard in the herd aloud—

moo your way into the crowd

John Rowe

Poem For A Three-legged Cow

Just how many three-legged cows

have you seen standing in reality?

Rhetorical question—don’t answer, please.

This is just a little convention

to get your attention

(I, the poet, have such self-conscious needs).

Ironically, the three-legged cow

grazing in this land of poem

hungers not for your attention, nor mine.

You see, even though created

with this unique disposition,

she’s content to live as cow:

life of absolution,

chewing her cud,

occasionally swishing tail

to ward off flies.

She may move you with moo’s

but will speak no truths nor lies

(no why me’s)—

she will remain cow, now and till the end

balancing on all threes.

John Rowe

Published in Winsome Losesome

(Eventuality Press, 2010)

Encounter On I-80

From the back of a Berkeley Farms van

a painted Holstein looks at me.

She seems black-and-white sure

of her place in the universe.

As we roll down I-80,

I talk to her through my windshield.

She’s a silent metal shimmy

among thick-trunked trees.

Her eyes are meltingly real.

I am reassured by her bovinity.

I inform the Holstein, who keeps a watch on me,

that I'm on my way to a latté,

a drink of steamed milk rich in calcium,

and that its espresso with flavonoids

is also healthy.

I call the latté my medicinal libation.

As the Berkeley Farms van pulls away,

I thank the silent Black and White

for my upcoming milk and caffeine fix.

It couldn't exist

without her adorably lovely coy cowness,

now disappearing into the distance.

Sherry Sheehan

(published in the March 2004 Crockett Signal)

Curious Calf

Curious calf,

you look at me


Nearby, your mother is grazing.

You have no fear.

You are so cute, you blue-ribbon


you deserve to be appreciated by


very young ladies.

In the best of worlds,

one of them would claim you,

name you,

care for you,

get close enough to touch you


You would become her pet,

included in her future

forever. Safe from the carnivores:

the cougar,

the wolf,

the coyote,

the bear,

the cattle buyer

at the county fair.

John Pray (1940-2010)

To Know

The cows will know.

The cows will know when to go home.

I don’t know when I will go home.

I will want to go home, I know.

But I don’t know when I will know.

I am lying in a field.

The field is green and full.

I am surrounded by cows in this field.

I hear chewing and whispers

rushing like mice through this field.

I am laughing. The cows are laughing.

Grasses are tickling us all in this field.

I close my eyes.

Now I am dreaming.

I open my eyes.

The cows have gone home

and so have I.

What was there to know?

A cloud floats over the field it knows.

John Rowe

Published in Beyond Perspective

(Finishing Line Press, 2015)

beyond that green hill

imagine a cow unnamed

not imagining

John Rowe