Barbara Cumbers

This is an age of goats

First they infiltrated the sheep,
blending in unnoticed. They’re survivors
who’ll eat anything anywhere.

Sheep are more fussy, they eat downwards ‒
grass and dandelions. Goats
reach for the sky. And goats can climb.

In this age of goats, they are everywhere:
in our fields, our gardens, our streets,
our homes. One in the Tesco carpark

had climbed a car to reach
some eat-me leaves. Though cloven hooves
slipped a little on the warm bonnet,

it was so superior, looking down
through pupils as cold and square
as spreadsheets, dilated with success.

In the bible, sheep are blessed and goats
accursed. The goats bleat of unfairness
in the cadences of language.

They have reared on their hind legs,
staggering at first but increasingly stable.
Horns have softened to not quite human hair.

They bleat and bleat and bleat
as if they were men. They blather nonsense,
and we believe them.

Barbara Cumbers is a retired geologist and information officer living in London with a husband and a cat. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. Her first collection is A Gap in the Rain, published by Indigo Dreams in 2016. She had a strict Christian fundamentalist upbringing, the repudiation of which sometimes reflects in her poems