Sunday Poem

The Goat

El Dorado Village. Trinidad


I don't want to kill the animal.
I don't want to kill the goat.
I don't want to bring the machete
of subjects and predicates down
on Bobby's wedding for his daughter.

By hack saw, cleaver, and knife,
I don't want to render
the body and spirit of Boyo
into edible bits,
no matter how delicious.


I want the goat whole.
There is nothing to prove to the goat
as Shaffina and her sister watch
in black hajibs from the house.

He doesn't need to be led by a rope
and relieved of his life
in a little spurting fountain,
trussed up by a hind leg
in the face of his own cage
beneath the flimsy galvanized
in service to what blank red Vatican
he knows not: the poem.


Bobby hangs his hat where he can't reach.
Forty lbs. of garlic, 200 of flour for roti,
heart of palm stacked like whale bones,
and, I'm ashamed to say,
Boxes of cubed, frozen goat.

But Bobby has to sell his truck
because sugar cane is a weed in Trinidad now.
Before that, his top-shelf restaurant failed.
And, he has a prior: ten years in the slammer
in Barbados for smuggling drugs.

My wife estimates his “marriages” at four.


Light rain drums on the roof,
and I watch from the dung-jeweled pen.
Bobby has more charisma
than any man deserves.
He loiters in across the muddy dump,
roped this last time to his goat.
It doesn't take a genius to see
something mythic is happening,
but like the man being ridden
out of town on a rail,
if it wasn't for the honor,
I'd just as soon walk.


There was talk that someone knew the short version,
and someone else the long, but the truth is
that no words as words at all were spoken.

Of course, Bobby's just trying to be a good Muslim
(the rest are Pentecostal),
and maybe killing his good friend
will take his mind off his daughter's wedding.


Bobby tips the goat like a dining room table,
and the white-haired, white-capped Old Factotum
dispatches voiceless Boyo fairly routinely.

I admit it. I thought of Daniel Pearl.


We hoisted the flapping sacrifice
like an engine in a garage

Cleaving the hide (whitish inside),
drawing and quartering, as they say,

the phosphorescent guts ballooning
into the white plastic pail.

At Bobby's order, I retrieved the muddy skin
from beneath the swing goat.

I divided the coat on the side of the pen
and gave it a little pat.

Just then a little black boy showed up
and began an interrogation.


In the car on the way home from Second Sunday,
Halima says, “Jim dance chutney,
Jim cut up goat, Jim plenty plenty.”
Stag is a man's beer. Guinness is good for you.
Be free of yourself. Chant and be happy.
To be born and to live every day is to kill plenty plenty.

by Jim Klein
from Blue Chevies
White Chickens Press Rutherford, NJ, 2008