Size / / /

        Lion: Look at the circles under my eyes. I haven't slept in weeks.

        Tin Woodsman: Why don't you try counting sheep?

        Lion: That doesn't do any good. I'm afraid of them.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Fearful of sheep? Baaa. Then again,

maybe it's not that crazy a notion,

for what more remorseless soldierly

beast is there than the sheep?

From their dirty flea-ridden wool

to their grass-stained teeth (you think

Agent Orange a potent herbicide?—

watch a legion of ovine, horn-headed

mercenaries field-strip a pasture);

the pale timorous bleating of their young

and clop-clop-clopping feet

so nicely turned out

in caligulae, or little black boots

(hup-two-three-four);

to the moist thunder of their rumen

and sticky caltraps of dung;

but most of all the sheer implacable

amount of them,

to say nothing of their patience

and discipline,

the entire endless uncounted lot

queued up all the way back to infinity

waiting for a simple turn to jump

over the barricade, the metric

of fence and insomnia—with no more

encouragement, reward, or slap of thanks

than the assignment of a mere number—

or even worse, a desultory round of snores.

What general, dreaming of animal reichs

or chancellorships still to come, would

knowingly look askance at such recruits?

What nation would not quiver seeing an army

of sheep on the horizon—no matter how

huge its reserve of mint jelly or love

of lamb chops?




Robert Borski works for a consortium of elves repairing shoes in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. You can read more of his work in our archives.
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14 Oct 2019

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