Poem of the Week | May 21, 2009

This week we are proud to feature “Mr. Goat,” by Matthew Fluharty, who was a finalist for this year’s Jeffrey Smith Editor’s Prize in Poetry. The poem is previously unpublished. Fluharty’s poetry has appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Hudson Review, Notre Dame Review, Open City, Poetry Ireland Review and elsewhere. He is the co-editor of Breaking The Skin: New Irish Poetry (2002, Black Mountain Press, Northern Ireland) and the editor of a 2005 New Irish Poets feature in the journal Éire-Ireland. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Washington University in Saint Louis.

This poem began by meeting a certain goat on my friends’ farm in Wisconsin, a goat who loved to play catch (by head-butting basketballs in mid-air). I spent some visionary summer mornings in the goat’s field, reading Lorca with him. When the goat took to its final resting place under a heap of horse manure and hay, I tried in vain to get at the animal’s duende. Only after a country subdivision sprouted up across the road did I find the lens and the form that might do our afternoons justice.

Mr. Goat

Like reading from a dual language volume
of Lorca-on one side, a sudden shock
of wildflowers, their promise of blossoms
that bring forth blizzards, sobbing, out of rocks.
Across the repaved road, the grammar and grid
of a country subdivision, The Acres,
falls in rows of sod freshly laid in each yard,
in numbers stenciled in front of the houses.
A blind goat wanders between, marking the turn
by the brass and yoke of its homing bell.
Families come out. Mothers cradle babies,
children burst from their rooms to touch its horns,
calling its name. Such a docile animal,
its four stomachs full of graveyard lilies.