If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for goats. I'm also a sucker for anything related to people acting like animals/animals acting like people, creatures that are part human, part animal, etc. etc. For example, I have a large framed picture in my apartment of a woman's body with a cat head (her name is Debbie, I'll introduce you sometime).
So of course I adore this poem, "Goat" by Jo Shapcott, sent to me this evening by my dear friend Erin Stainsby:
by Jo Shapcott
(Her Book/ Poems 1988-1998, Faber & Faber)
Dusk, deserted road, and suddenly
I was a goat. To be truthful, it took
two minutes, though it seemed sudden,
for the horns to pop out of my skull,
for the spine to revolutionise and go
horizontal, for the fingers to glue
together and for the nails to become
important enough to upgrade to hoof.
The road was not deserted any more, but full
of goats, and I liked that, even though I hate
the rush hour on the tube, the press of bodies.
Now I loved snuffling behind his or her ear,
licking a flank or two, licking and snuffling here,
there, wherever I liked. I lived for the push
of goat muscle and goat bone, the smell of goat fur,
goat breath and goat sex. I ended up on the edge
of the crowd where the road met the high
hedgerow with the scent of earth, a thousand
kinds of grass, leaves and twigs, flower-heads
and the intoxicating tang of the odd ring-pull
or rubber to spice the mixture. I wanted
to eat everything. I could have eaten the world
and closed my eyes to nibble at the high
sweet leaves against the sunset. I tasted
that old sun and the few dark clouds
and some tall buildings far away in the next town.
I think I must have swallowed an office block
because this grinding enormous digestion tells me
it’s stuck on an empty corridor which has
at the far end, I know, a tiny human figure.
Write a poem or story in which the speaker becomes "other", whether it's a single animal or an entire flock of geese. A boat, a rainstorm, a plastic doll. Think confessionalism. Think about deep dark desires. Real blood, sex, and tears. Get weird. Send a poetic postcard from the edge.