Origin Stories – James Penha

Origin Stories
Origin Story of “Cows
    by James Penha

    The cows in the field lumber from patch
    to patch of grass and weeds; mouths 
    pull and chew and swallow and cuddle
    with an eagerness their big brown bodies
    belie. Contented—as those dairy bovines
    who produced Carnation Condensed Milk
    had been advertised for decades—cows
    need not run. They amble. They lumber.
    But their calves race and chase each other
    around the field for no good reason except 
    youth. At what age or weight or worry
    do they stop running and slow down into
    contentment, all four stomachs satisfied 
    with the meadow, all four teats granting
    more than they must or need for their own.

Origin Stories – Cows

While I was revising Cows, I thought about horse poems—by Ted Hughes, Paisley Rekdal, Ada Limón, among others—but they didn’t prompt my Cows. Rather it was my looming 76th birthday (no wonder I know Carnation commercials from the 1950s) as my husband and I drank our afternoon coffees in a pasture on a hill overlooking the sea surrounding Bali. We come here often to listen to the surf and watch the birds and the cows. But never before had I attended to the radical differences in personality between cows and their calves. Ah, youth! Ah, the contentment of age for which I still search.

Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Now Available

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

April 6 – Jeanne DeLarm

April 7 – Virginia Smith

April 8 – Patricia Ware

April 9 – Mary Makofske

April 10 – Ann Wallace

April 11 – Jessica Purdy

April 12 – Lakshman Bulusu

April 13 – Kim Malinowski

April 14 – Anita Pulier

April 15 – Martha Bordwell

April 16 – Anastasia Walker

April 17 – Annette Sisson

April 18 – Shaheen Dil

April 19 – Claudia Reder

April 20 – Cathy Thwing

April 21 – Sarah Snyder

April 22 – Susan Barry-Schultz

April 23 – Laurie Kuntz

April 24 – Maryann Hurtt

April 25 – Yvonne Zipter

April 26 – Jess Parker

April 27thKelly Sargent

April 28thRobbi Nester

April 29thLaurie Rosen

Previous NPM celebrations from Gyroscope Review

Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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