Sunday, November 27, 2016

Susan Hawthorne #334 what Queenie says about cow masks

for Luisa Valenzuela

Queenie the cow from India
is in Argentina
because she is famous
for her artistic sensibility
she has been invited
to an Expositión
of masks from around the world

clattering down the stairs
on her hoofed feet
she stands looking around
searching for her relatives
she says apart from one
fine-faced heifer from Italy

the rest are almost scary
they are big like her water buffalo
cousins back in Chennai
large horns the type you don't
want to mess with here or there

we cows live to play dress-ups
put on some stage make-up
so we can be anonymous
just for a while

so many wearying things
rest on our shoulders as we pull
and carry haul and hoist
no one notices our intellect
the culture we've built
in just about every continent

here in South America
the humans make masks
so they can pretend to be us
walk about looking gorgeous
in their red yellow and green

India has the best culture
no they are not cults
they are much more than that
and we like to keep
our secrets to ourselves

Queenie would like to return
the favour and invite
her friend Luisa Valenzuela
to come and join her
in city or country life
in faraway India the south
she says has more to show
maybe you can read some
stories to us in return


  1. Wonderfully playful - what amazing cow masks!

  2. Thank you all . Queenie is a character from my book Cow.

  3. P.S. A trivia item, Susan. I can't paste the image here alas, but my grandfather Stewart Schackne had a book published in 1940 in America called "Rowena the Skating Cow" - which I had read to me many times when I was small and which I eventually read myself many times. Years later, I would read Les Murray's poems, and wonder at their power. Then I read yours. How all of it is connected.

    1. Not at all trivial. I read poem about cows by Les Murray too but could never find it again. Thanks.



      Darrambawli and all his wives, they came feeding from the south-east
      back in that first time. Darrambawli is a big red fellow,
      terrible fierce. He scrapes up dust, singing, whirling his bullroarers
      in the air: he swings them and they sing out Crack! Crack!
      All the time he's mounting his women, all the time more kulka,
      more, more, smelling their kulka and looking down his nose.
      Kangaroo and emu mobs run from him, as he tears up their shelters,
      throwing the people in the air, stamping out their fires.
      Darrambawli gathers up his brothers, all making that sad cry mar mar:
      He initiates his brothers, the Bulluktruk. They walk head down in a line
      and make the big blue ranges. You hear their clinking noise in there.
      Darrambawli has wives everywhere, he has to gallop back and forth,
      mad for their kulka. You see him on the coast, and on the plains.
      They're eating up the country, so the animals come to spear them:
      You have to die now, you're starving us. But then Waark the crow
      tells Darrambawli Your wives, they're spearing them. He is screaming,
      frothing at the mouth, that's why his chest is all white nowadays.
      Jerking two knives, he screams I make new waterholes! I bring the best song!
      He makes war on all that mob, raging, dotting the whole country.
      He frightens the water-snakes; they run away, they can't sit down.
      The animals forget how to speak. There is only one song
      for a while. Darrambawli must sing it on his own.

    3. Thanks Rob. This is one of them but there was another (unless my memory has twisted things) based on a story from a Sanskrit text, probably the Mahabharata, but not usre. it was abit hsorter than this poem. I will chase it up again as I am now puzzled all over again,

  4. Oh, Queenie ,I love you. What an uplifting poem and series of images, Susan.


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