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Country Fair Oxen Pull, Summer 2009

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  • Country Fair Oxen Pull, Summer 2009

    Startled by the whip flashed across the back
    of a yoked pearl white oxen that stumbled backwards
    towards the concrete pull, I peered down at my toddler’s face.
    His wide jaw and squinting eyes brimmed with misunderstanding.
    The trainer shouted commands, “Eyah! Eyah!” with deep ghastly
    nasal snarls and I knew my son learned his first lesson
    in how man becomes beast, instant and irrevocably.

    Sidestepping clumsily and with large lashed eyes
    that gazed wildly at us, the white oxen, snowy and elegant,
    pulled and yanked against the yoke, clangs
    reverberating like Christmas bells. We flinched
    at the next “Eyah!” and the trainer’s face turned red
    from embarrassment. As he cursed, the old flanneled couple
    next to us whispered their disapproval.
    The red faced man threw the useless leather goad
    to the ground and like a heavyweight boxer, coiled his torso
    to punch the ivory ox square in the jaw.

    We are at the mercy of all of Life’s
    unexpected miseries and wretched moments
    of human fury. Helpless, tears swelled, as I understood
    the limits of fatherhood protection. We experience
    the world on our own often enough without censors.

    He regarded me with heavy cheeks,
    a venerable face of concern, and confessed,
    “Papa, I want to go,” his eyes betraying the knowledge
    that I couldn’t always protect him.

    Resolved, he held my hand, and led me,
    sitting bewildered with our new unspoken knowledge,
    down the bleachers, and away from ring
    towards the brilliant sunshine.

    Glenn Powers

  • #2
    Terrific! Enjoyed this so much. My neighbor in Vermont kept oxen. They loved him because of his care and kindness, and followed him about like dogs. He told me about the kind of men you describe in your poem.

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    • #3
      Good descriptive work.

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      • #4
        Brilliantly done! And congratulations on winning one of the top spots! As a father and an animal lover this one hit me hard. Please post more often!

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        • #5
          I must say my first thought was of Alexis Karass punching out the horse In Blazing Saddles. Then the Paul Harvey rest of the story: Your son who later gets a job working for Peta, after successfully banning huskies from pulling sleds.
          He has a flash back while in Vietnam when he sees two woman pulling a plow though a rice patty, (since they banded oxen) .When he sees the man walk up and deck his wife and now has a job working against spousal abuse.

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          • #6
            Great Poem Good Job, I enjoyed it, CONGRATULATIONS on one of the top spots! The kurlman

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