If a cow has no tail then only Allah can keep the flies from bothering it.

An unnamed “old chief” of Dantillia, from Michael Jackson's ethnography Barawa and the Ways Birds Fly in the Sky

Track sumac over borderlands green with delicious dank

that neat foot, fancy turn at the end of my leg, one toe point

past the border into the peopleless not-farm & leap the listing sun

soft trail down to the abandoned quarry run


Last night the trees came, pulled to the edge of snapping

grit from the fields flew into stone hammering their cousins

brick and slate roofing & where stalks were left lazing about

from the haying, must have taken up their packs

like me must have ended up 3 forests over by now, thirsty

ready for a sit-down and drink & so the sumac sun

tea with oat cake or so I thought, instead ran out to the far flung


but then the train rang, in the late-day heat its iron mind

lifted in small plumes of tarred trees pushing wind-pricked

down-trail back round that last corner, me now done loafing

but caught by this steel, its metal voice singing sumac sumac

sling by on slow, a train man blue cap hangs smiling

now missy he starts but I didn't stay for listening

Originally published by Caliban Online, Issue #28

Published under the name A. Non.