Did you hear it?


Headlines in the dark forest. Hoot owl calling hoo-hoo, moo-hoon. Did you hear it? Drinking mead, tasting bitters — rumors in the moonlight. Just me and Trotsky’s ghost going on about something theoretical, some ism or other, playing light games, puppet shadows on the wall. Continuity today is overrated and it will be tomorrow and yesterday too.

Did you hear it?

Gasoline, lighting the discontented, writing midnight headlines. Hot lead burning fingers and hooves. The mild mannered sheep, meeting after hours, were organizing, organizing, organizing.

I counted them. In my sleep. The sheep were organizing, 200 million of them, thinking hard. Thinking about lanolin, thinking about their elder aunties in Memphis, in the cold moorlands, in the far distant old country somewhere – it’s a damn jailhousedamn them damn them said the ram and the gnu. Oppressed by swine, the sheep were thinking hard, chewing things over.

They brought it about, one bleat and then another, the revolution of sheep, separating the wheat from the chaff, the man from the boy, the herring from the smelt. It didn’t smell good, that revolution, that overthrow in their windy green country, but eventually there they were, those liberated sheep, swilling beer, eating pork pie and potted meat food product. 

The pigs always been laughing at us, always, said the sheep, since 1432 if rumor tells it right. And of course it always does.

The pigs took to muttering, talking sideways out the corner of their mouths, at tea parties and slaughterhouse meetings and it came soon, a few centuries or less, that the pigs overthrew the sheep once again.

For awhile, there was peace and plenty and mutton all round, and a certain happy wallow in damp mud, and collective rooting.

Those days, those days. How they did go on, until in the dark a young urchin wrote an essay on the oppression of the deep.

And who did read it but the squid, in the luminous still chilly dark, and the eel, reading over his shoulder, and the octopus? 

Inland, the hoot owl called it again, mooon moo-hooooon, going back to press, moonlight shining off  eyes coming up from the deep, silent and angry and wet.

There was a monstrous haze on the meadow, a grocery list of pig knuckles and savory land treats, squids getting their nets to the ready.

Squids wanted to have a party and serve little bites of land chowder to all their salt water friends, pulling them apart like taffy, chewing them up like grapenuts, crunchy warty snacks.

The penguins heard about it, the stoats too, and they headed for higher ground, risking frostbite and living on canned green beans for what seemed like a fantastically long time.

In Boston, the squids rose to the surface and scattered the peoplesticks ahead of them, looking for exits, finding dead ends.

The media frenzy was brief — it was all over very quickly. The squids had weight gain and collapsed under the burden of their own expansionist tendencies.

The owls reported it hoo hoo hooooogood one said the owls, always ready for a good laugh at someone else’s expense, never ready to organize or ism with anyone, any time, any where. Medicate that squid and throw him back where he come from hoo hoooo said the owls, silly pansies, more strength than wisdom.

Madame Owl, the only communist owl ever, hence the failure of that particular political dogma in the animal kingdom, made a list of things to save and causes to pursue – right of way, thought crime, the rights of strumpets and minotaurs to cavort, the right of gasoline to burn if it must.

But no one came to the meetings. The squids were back down in the deep, the ferrets were getting hot-waxed and de scented, and the potted plants never accepted any invitations.

The quixotic Madame Owl sat under a willow, limbs hanging in her eyes, wearing violet clothes and lilac cologne, when in came a donkey, all in a gallop, to relieve her of wisdom, to take her reading glasses, to bring her a glass of whisky and rub her feet.

He gave her a velvet box full of ball bearings, a waterfront condo that was not in Kansas, a catamaran named MRI and an open invitation to join him any time in Mexico, any time at all. Then he left, with his number on a post-it note on her mirror, and she saved it for later.

The other hoot owls said hoo hoo hooo in the wilderness, and she said hoo hooo right back, but from a distance. Or so it would seem. 


2 Responses to “Did you hear it?”

  1. 1 Lollyloo October 4, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    And this was BEFORE Brooks referred to liberals as “rabid lambs”. Prophetic!

    But then, what else would we expect from the owl, beast of Minerva and Lilith?

  2. 2 Teresa October 4, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    I think this was written over the summer (this year? last year?), but yeah, it jumped out at me for that very reason. I do love owls as truth-tellers.

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