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Thursday, 5 December 2013



Sheepish [original version]: photo by Karena Goldfinch, 27 March 2010

Tentative, hanging back
to speak -- in a world

endlessly fraught
with administrative

for those tempted
to utter
so much as one

independent word
in the face of
the expanding


to one's knitting
in public
makes one sheepish,

stitched up,
stuck in, half afraid
to risk a peek

at what might
or might not
be waiting out


He only wanted to eat some grass. (This young wombat was hit by a car.): photo by Karena Goldfinch, 7 October 2012

Sheepish [hand coloured photogravure version]: photo by Karena Goldfinch, 21 March 2013


TC said...

The animal totems shall lead us on into the darkness. Walk on.

Shhh... Poor Mr. Sheep....

And oh, that young wombat, involuntarily mixed up on the road with the machine that destroyed the planet; the living creature was always going to come out second best. My heart went out. Been there done that.

ACravan said...

Been there, done that. The photo of the wombat in death is obviously deeply, disturbingly sad. It haunts and will continue to haunt me because it's such a finely composed image, a worthy tribute/memory portrait in a way, and it contrasts with the animal carcasses I see every single day when I drive Jane to school, the ubiquity of which everywhere has led to the crude, jokey colloquial use of the term "roadkill," which has joined "brain-dead" in the glossary of unkind things supposedly "nice," intelligent and respectable people can say in everyday life and probably get promoted (and elected) to high executive positions. Whether or not and how to speak up is something all of us ponder. It's something we've needed to address repeatedly with our very intelligent, but typically somewhat shy and polite daughter in her competitive school situation. Hang back and you get criticized. Speak up often, bray away (as long as you parrot your teachers' biases and intonations) and you might find a way forward. When I was a child I remember reading words from Isaiah on a synagogue wall saying "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." I always liked that, but now I see it's likely a roadkill recipe. Anyway, I've asked Jane to speak up more, but judiciously, and to report back to me about progress and problems. As for me, I try to tend to my knitting in semi-private, but a lawyer's life is threading the needle between calm calculation and false outrage. The sheep portraits are just great. Curtis

Wooden Boy said...

"Walking on over your own self now". Randy's a perfect accompaniment to the post.

The independent words are forever catching in my throat, poor dumb sheep that I am

Hazen said...

Joseph Goebbels famously spoke of the lie so big and repeated so often that it becomes convincing. Then he added a less-known but more sinister note: that the consequences of the lie eventually will work themselves into public awareness unless—and this is where it gets really dark—unless the State uses “all its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Today, we’d have to add: “and of the corporation, which the State exists to serve.”

We live under the sign of the double-whammy, when a general sheepishness is joined with widespread official intimidation, both overt and implied.

Jonathan Chant said...

Yes, the sheep portraits are great. As are the independent utterances in both poem and response.

TC said...

A few decades back I cracked the Big Bad Old Book for the first time in years, on a sort of misplaced democratic "equal time" impulse I suppose. As it happened Isaiah turned out to be the one section that seemed to offer at least an oblique ray of relevance, perhaps best captured in the five quiet words, "Watchman, what of the night?" That's still a pretty good question.

But we must always recall that Isaiah is a calculated fiction, a propaganda text proposed as having been composed some four centuries before it actually was.

History, myth, propaganda -- so many blurry category lines, there, always.

But in the years after that reading of Isaiah I found myself intermittently quarreling with and then grudgingly accepting (what other way is there to accept anything in the OT?) the possibility of a poetic truth in Isaiah's God.

Message from the Captain

The Captain in our epoch must surely be, as Hazen suggests, The Corporate State.

And it really shouldn't be so surprising that nobody wants to take the risk of resisting the Captain. Smartphones don't yet come with the default high-altitude parachute-deployment app (but who knows, the Yuletide product launches are still bursting all around us, the gadgets' momentary red glare flickering in the next false dawn's early light -- illumination contributed by the continuous "smart" brain tumour-inducing micro-radiation).

And I'm not so sure those scattered small fires glimmering in the darkness up ahead are really the landing lights, either, said Mr Sheep.