Sheep Poem


This morning I saw a couple holding hands.
Their hands fit together
in a way that’s not unlike
a gathering of sheep,
a warm, tight huddle.

A gathering of sheep,
from above,
is not unlike
the mold that forms
on the rim
of my toilet.

It started when I was in high school.

It was a sheep with a black muzzle,
clouded by little bits of white fur,
like an unshaved teenager,
innocent and awkward,
but somehow deserving of every beating
it would ever receive.

I don’t know how or why,
but it took me somewhere
outside of myself,
like I could somehow
turn the tables,
though I’m not sure
what it means to turn the tables.
You can turn a table
and still be sitting in the same place.

Hurting a sheep is like listening to folk songs.
It will always calm you
and give you a better understanding
of what is a sheep
and what is a rock
and what is a fist
and what is that red spot

Hurting a sheep is not like peeling an orange.
It is cracking the orange in half,
eating it from the inside
and moving out.
It is biking without a helmet.

The reason I don’t fuck with goats
is that goats fight back.

I’ve never seen sheep-skin condoms,
but I would probably buy a pack if I did.
I want to feel like I’m pounding
the sheep
even when it’s not the sheep that I’m pounding.

I’d imagine you’d have to special order the condoms,
from Greece or Albania,
where I hear that bestiality shit flies.

I wouldn’t tell whoever it is
that I am making love to
that we’re using a sheep-skin condom.

I don’t want my lover
to think that I have expensive tastes.
I’m as humble as the next man.

I wear wool,
but not from a sheep.
The most premium wool comes from alpaca.
Warmer than sheep's wool
and lighter in weight,
alpaca is the top choice
for sweater manufacturers.

Rich people use alpaca wool
to wipe their asses.

I lost my saw last year.
I left it in the front leg of a sheep.
A gang of sheep wranglers
caught me and nearly
beat me to death.
They left me
next to the dying animal,
our blood mixing,
blades of grass
coated with the brackish mixture,
the pitiful bleating
as our lives intertwined.

I cut a sheep in half,
set each side in concrete
like a mounted fish.
The sheep’s two sides
stared at each other.
I submitted the piece
to the local art museum.
I called it “Dolly.”

It was an anonymous piece.
I found it in the dumpster,
after the show,
under six layers
of cardboard.

When I lead a flock of sheep,
into the back
of my brother’s moving truck
and into the wood chipper
from Rent Way,
I feel like Jesus.

They will follow me
to their complete and utter

They will not
mistake passion for prophecy,
or prophecy for passion.

They will pay for their own sins,
which are too many to number.

I will paint
the walls of that van
a dark red,
- painting the walls red
being a typical
and overused
expression denoting violence.
But in my case
it’s quite literal.

My brother cannot scrub
the images from the walls
of his small moving truck.
These are images
of an improvised cuneiform
prophesying the coming of our true Lord
in a monkey suit.

My brother is the only one who knows
what any of this means.

I am throwing artichokes at a sheep.
The sheep is cringing at every throw.
The dampened thud against the fleece
is the greatest sound I’ve ever known.

I take a hard rock and crack it, gently,
against the skull of this creature.
It bleats in complaint, but can do nothing.

I rub it hard against the black scalp.
This is probably how they made leather,
in the days when everyone wore leather.

I feel so epic right now.

I can practically read your mind,
you who has found these poems.
Do you fuck sheep?
That’s what you would like to know.
I don’t fuck sheep.
But I’ve thought about it,
just like the Earth has thought
about swallowing us all whole
for the last four and a half billion years.

Have you ever seen a picture of
the earth from outer space
on a cloudy day in February?

It looks like some gargantuan beast
fucked the blue hole
in the black body of this universe,
and his condom failed.

All of the shepherds disappeared
when the flow of the land disappeared,
which was right about the time
that everybody fenced off their land.

I like to watch my hand disappear
into the belly of a ram.
It’s a warm bath.
It’s your parents
reading to you
from the Old Testament,
when the world had only one deciding factor.

I once stole a vehicle.

I became tired of flattening sheep
with that Japanese truck,
wool stuck in the grill
like bread between bottom teeth.

I drove through the night
spreading sheep across the land
like mayonaisse.

When the night ended,
I was out of gas,
dead sheep everywhere.
It looked
like a preschool diorama of Antietam,
cotton balls representing the fallen men,
stuck to the earth with Elmer’s glue.

I ran off,
but I could hear the farmer
heading toward the massacre,
shooting at the newly-risen sun.

A pile of dead sheep
looks like a dirty snow drift
shoved aside by a mid-day plow.

I learned this from a picture
on a BBC news story.
Hundreds of sheep
killed by foot-and-mouth disease.
I want to be this disease.
I want to crawl into one hundred sheep
and destroy them from the inside-out.

There is an old joke
that we told when we were kids.

When you urinate on a sheep
you are going on the lamb.

Jokes like this are only truly funny in childhood,
as accessories to high voices
and broken-bodied G.I. Joes.

Now, when I think of the joke,
I laugh at the laughing
and our positions in the grass

and the kool-aid red of our mouths.

Food dye would carry us toward
our better years and better jokes.

I want to pile them so high
that they block your cellular reception.
I want them to be the tree at the side of the celestial road
that ends the next NASA space flight in total disaster.

I want four crosses floating through space.

I want to stuff them,
like socks into a messy drawer,
into the Grand Canyon until I can walk
from one side to the other.

I want my legs to sink into the drawer.

I want to build a mansion
out of sheep bones and hardened guts
with wool for carpeting and hooves for doorknobs
that open to rooms that make me say,

“Home sweet home.”

At the petting zoo,
my son is laughing at the
animal’s flat teeth.

He says they remind
him of Grandpa’s teeth,
stained by tobacco and coffee.

I am holding a
needle between my first and
second right fingers

and I am reaching
through curls to get to the skin
to write my name down.

A sheep has no true form.
It is four sticks in a ball of mud.
It is a dry cocoon.
It is unlit tinder.

A sheep sleeps with no trouble.
If you count them before bed,
your sleep will be a poem.
It is a poem about everything right with the world.
It is not much of a poem.

Daniel Bailey lives in Muncie, Indiana. This is his blog. He has never harmed a sheep.