Pastoral – by Will Walker
My shtetl was so small, the mayor was a goat.
My father always said he did a good job,
though times got hard and we ate him.
Mother said he was too liberal and had to go.
My brother claimed he’d become too literate
from all the papers he ate. My sister thought
term limits made sense. I kept my mouth shut.
I just wished he’d never run for mayor.
Ambition has unintended consequences.
When I got to the city, I missed our former mayor:
the only politician I ever knew who never
told a lie. You always knew where he stood,
because of the bell around his neck.
In the city not even the plants had roots.
They grew in little boxes on the roofs
and porches and migrated to the sunny spots
as the seasons changed. One time a tiny maple
asked me for spare change. What could I say?
Grow some roots, urban trash? I poured my beer
in his box and told him it was all I had.
The gods in town seemed as strange as the politicians
and the plants: kept behind locked doors, mostly
in the vaults of banks, worshipped by the rich
and deadly serious, all of them unacquainted
with the honest ways of goats.