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Of Rebellion and Revolution

Cattle are important. And because cattle are important, cowherds are important. There has to be someone to milk the cattle and clean the dung. It doesn't benefit a king to kill cowherds.

Which is why, when the rebellion comes, it comes from the cowherd. He may be dark-skinned and wear feathers in his hair and play bamboo flutes and spend the day far too alone to gossip and plot, but he observes. He watches the oxen drag the plough, the crack of the whip behind them. But he also looks at the same bulls in the spring, locking horns in fierce combat. He watches the cow obey the hurr-hurrs as she is led along the road, but he also sees how she becomes a tigress when her calf is in danger. The same bullocks that solemnly drag the overloaded cart, now maddened, gore the drover.

The cowherd observes, and he learns that the weak can become strong. He learns that sickles can become swords, that the humble wooden stick can break a spinal cord. He may be a king's human beast; but listen to the notes of the flute, and tremble. In those notes, crowns are tossed away.

in the creak
of the old gibbet
a war cry
that shook the earth
but not the throne

(Published in Haibun Today September 2014)

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