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Friday, January 17, 2014


by Tricia Knoll

NAMIE, Japan — His may be one of the world’s more quixotic protests.
Angered by what he considers the Japanese government’s attempts to sweep away the inconvenient truths of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Masami Yoshizawa has moved back to his ranch in the radioactive no-man’s land surrounding the devastated plant. He has no neighbors, but plenty of company: hundreds of abandoned cows he has vowed to protect from the government’s kill order. --NY Times, January 11, 2014

I grew up on the myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, that careless bovine
kicking a lamp that burned down Chicago. Hot time in the old town
tonight we sang. When Mrs. O’Leary was officially cleared of wrong-doing,
it was too late for kids that learned that song in grade school.
That kerosene lamp, and she didn’t do it. The cow was innocent.

I like cows. I’m lactose in love. Ice cream. Cheese. At the Oregon coast,
we have a herd of Oreo cows --black at the butt, black at the head, a middle stripe
of creamy white around the belly. People tell stories about those Oreo cows.
Tourists go out of their way to take pictures of them, officially --
Belted Galloways.

Today’s hot time cows...well, they surprised me. Those radioactive cows,
the Fukushima cows, all one color cows -- I guess you’d call them licorice
unlucky cows. Cows of Hope. Officially Japanese blacks. Radioactive cows
feeding on contaminated grass and Mr. Yoshizawa who says the fault
is not the cows’, they are more than walking accident debris. So he lives
along side-by-side them to stop the genocide of licorice unlucky cows,
a shooting and a push into the big pit. He too will learn just how hot
time is in the old town.

Yup, those cows. Waiting at the dwindling manger to join the ranks
                 Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
             moon jumpers
             the Oreo cows
                 Y Fuwch Frech
and the Licorice Unluckies in the hot town.

Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet. Finishing Line Press is publishing her chapbook Urban Wild in May 2014. She once rode a pregnant cow on a ranch which was a filmshoot site for a documentary highlighting the danger of the widespread use of DDT.