Life, she thought, let him off easy, while she–
she had to fight
for everything.
So when he declared, stentoriously, that cows
always faced
the same direction, she fumed

You just look in any field, he proclaimed,
the cows will all be facing
the exact same way.

The country road they traveled curved
around hills spotted,
she realized horrified, with
almost-gridded shanks.

Look, she squinted, that one’s
completely sideways.

An anomaly, he crowed.  The exception
that proves the rule.  

For years then, still smarting over fate’s
she carefully checked (when she had the chance)
the collective stance of cows, refusing to ever settle
for a near unanimity
of moist soft snout. but finding, even if it took
a rearrangement of gaze
or slope,
that one, that two,
that several
who stood askew, and oh, then,
how righteously
she delighted.


Supposed to be doing Nanowrimo and am, sort of, but I could not resist revising an older poem for dVerse Poets Open Link night.  I make no claims as to any accuracy.

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30 Comments on “Cowspotting”

  1. janehewey Says:

    I love this, karin. I grew up in a small farming/beef packing town in Western Iowa. There is nothing in the world that evokes for me the same feeling as a cow’s face. Still, calm, unprovoked (usually) and chewing. They are almost always chewing. The ongoing question of direction facing is nothing short of charming. Righteous delight justified. Wonderful poem.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    I really enjoyed this, k. This longstanding bone of contention between two lovers/friends/relatives/adversaries could be anything, but that it is cows adds a certain tactile reality to the argument. I have so been in this frame of mind–on the defensive, resentful(foolishly perhaps) and the joy of disproving that over-assertive positivity even years later is a very real one. (BTW, out here, the cows face any direction they damn well want to.)

  3. brian miller Says:

    haha i bet every time she felt just a bit more vindicated….to me this is more about people believing things even when confronted with truth…and why? pride….

  4. I’m glad she proved him wrong. Even if it was friendly banter. lol
    Enjoyed this 🙂

  5. Beth Winter Says:

    Oh, I love it. There are some that always have to be right, an extreme and there are others, like us, who know that nothing is absolute. Wonderful.

  6. shanyns Says:

    My cows say they do that on purpose just to mess with people!! Great write…love the ending.

  7. apshilling Says:

    this is great! totally caught my imagination – i felt like a backseat listener . . . and i you succinctly capture that to and fro between
    partners – seeming non-sense that can add up to a whole lot of something BIG! or a giggle and a nod to the ridiculous things we can say . . . nice work!

  8. apshilling Says:

    and i think (i think – oops!) late night typing;)

  9. claudia Says:

    oh k. this is so cool…i just love this…such a gorgeous snapshot of how she feels…and oh i can feel it…just loved every single line

  10. Poet Laundry Says:

    ha! love it…spot on human nature…and gave me a laugh, thanks!

  11. Steve King Says:

    Cows…what wonderful touchstones to reality, at least for this guy who grew up in the country. There is a really feeling of triumph in finding our gut assertions to be true, especially in the face of odds and supposed certainty on the other side. This is a unique and gentle lesson. Very much enjoyed this excursion through the countryside.


  12. Sabio Lantz Says:

    I never heard of that. So I looked it up. Maybe North orientation:

    But when a couple argue and one feels intellectually insulted or intimidate or that the other person is arrogantly wrong, these sorts of stories stick with us.

    Males as the arrogant “I’m right” pattern is usual, but we all have seen women like that too. And we each handle the conflict differently. Too bad it has to be a battle and not mutual exploration. Good or bad, unlike cattle and deer, we aren’t animals who like to stand facing the same direction.
    Fun poem, thanx

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha, Sabio. Thanks for thoughtful comment. I will check out that site. k.

      • Sabio Lantz Says:

        I just read the comments — I laughed. Am I wrong in seeing that commentors wanted that woman to be right and so they automatically thought the man wrong. They assumed he was stupid to think they face the same way? I wonder if it was just me that checked.

        Looking further:

        Here is a 2011 study questioning the methods of the 2008 magnetic theory:

        I am not sure, if the generally do face the same direction though. Lots of places say yes. I need to see the research — and good research.

        I ain’t takin’ side — men vs. women, but I will side with empirical data any day over intuition. Intuition is a dime a dozen when it comes to empirical issues.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        I don’t know! I actually do think that cows often look in a similar direction in the fields where I go, and I haven’t had a chance to look at your sites yet, but I was not suprised to see them. That’s why in the poem I talk of an adjustment of gaze or slope–anything to shift it a bit.

        That said – there are always exceptions – I have looked at cows for a long time now! It really wasn’t meant as a battleground argument =- but I thought humorous.

        Of course, in different areas maybe these fields are less strong? Is that possible? I will look at the sites. Where I go the ground is extremely rocky if that makes a difference. k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Sabio – thanks again. The magnetic fields business is especially interesting to me as in an earlier version of the poem, there is a discussion as to whether they are actually lined up towards a certain point (“as in Mecca”) – I changed that part this time as I added things and didn’t want the poem to go too long, and also thought it was a bit distracting as it brought up weird cultural issues as to the possible nature of the proponents that really make no sense (and are not accurate). But you may be interested in seeing an earlier version of the poem:

  13. mhwarren Says:

    We’re such silly arguers with our lovers, like cows! Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? But sometimes we just hang on to wanting to be right!

  14. PJF Sayers Says:

    I had a friend who gave me directions by referring to cows in a field. He told me to turn left when I saw the cows. I don’t know whatever happened to him, haven’t seen him in years possibly he got lost. Your poem for some reason reminded me of that. I enjoyed this, Karin.


  15. I had the same reaction as Joy when I first read this; having grown up in the Texas panhandle, I’ve seen MANY herds of cows and they seemed to face anywhichdirection. Then I remembered there had been discussions about wind and snow and gathering in circles against the weather which I have also seen; so I googled it and found this which is purely strange and makes me think I’m not so observant as I thought:
    By the way I know the poem isn’t really about cows in a field and I think it’s brilliant –still can’t help but make a person think, huh?!

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. Ha! I actually do think they often sort of line up out here. But never completely so. It is all very interesting.

      I’m going to have to check out the deer now too.

      Thanks, Gay. k.

  16. beckykilsby Says:

    Superb! With the speaker all the way… love that righteous delight 🙂

  17. rmp Says:

    I think I’m going to have to pay more attention to crowds of cows. I thoroughly enjoyed feeling her delight at the end.

  18. Lindy Lee Says:

    Whatever may be true may also be untrue; nobody’s 100%–
    nice poem…

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