Sunday, May 3, 2015

Not Even Not Zen 5: I am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ma

In America, it's the week before Mother's Day.  Last year at this time, I wrote a poem to my wife.  Usually, that's not a humorous occasion.  But for this event, I took the opportunity to lampoon a piece that I've always1 loved, "I Am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra" by Ishmael Reed.2

Mother's Day, Ra Ra Ra

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ma
signed up for the short tour
but impressed into service for life,3
fast with the fork and the wallet,
swift to chase down small toddlers,
unfurler of sails, sailor of curls,
desperado in the unending showdown.4

Schoolgirls in pigtails see my Aset,5
tremble in fear at the quick,
bewildered by the slick, the flail, the crook,
the children, Horus, Anubis, Bastet,6
and my longhorn winding
its bells through the Field of Reeds.7

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ma
sidling up to the garden of rules
and garden tools, side by side with fools,
quick on the draw, slow on the uptake 8
bedded with Isis,
lover of the royal couch
but surprised by the birth of rainbows.9

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ma
because Ma'at lays down the truth, justice, and Way.10
They say I'm balancer of tasks, a merciful judge.11
Then they cut me to pieces. But I got back together.12
I'm an alchemist in ringmanship but a
sucker for the right kiss.

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ma. Lord of the laugh,
half breed son of Geb and Nut. I hold the souls
of men in my silicon. I love the game and game the lovers.
I make the gears grind still and was the first monkey
wrench tossed in a machine.13  I shake my fists
at the sky, shake my body until it flies apart.14

I am a cowboy in the rainbow boat. Pope Discord
of the Ma'at Ma. C'mere a minute willya hon?
Gimme that right kiss,
bring me my sash of red blood,
bring me my crook and my crown
Where's my shirt, ma?
Bring me my new eyes.
Hand me my shadow.
I'm going into town after Bes 16

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ma

look out Bes   here i come Bes
to bust Bes    to mess with Bes
to bless Bes   make Bes confess

       usurper of the Hathor crown 17
       fool and father of fools 18
       reason why we're here today
       dancer in poopy diapers 19
       fellow outlaw20 of the fatherly way

1. Since the age of twelve, anyway
2. So there are plenty of footnotes
3. Happens to a lot of guys
4. Every day, every fucking day
5. Isis
6.,,, everybody is somebody's kid
7. Egyptian heaven, capitalized here for good ol' Ishmael
8. Like you aren't
9. No excuse for being surprised
10. Ma'at is more St. Peter than Lao Tzu but the Way is universal
11. Yes, they do
12. Always happens
13. The Wheel
14. Got it from the Earth Dad15
15. Yep, Geb is the Earth
16. God of birth and of protecting the home. You know, the Earth is a father (Geb), and birth is a father (Bes). Old Egypt didn't have our current stereotypes
17. Not really but it's a good accusation
18. Like every dad
19. Pure slander based on his stature and loincloth
20. So probably just cuss at him and then buy him a drink

For a good review and explanation of the original poem, try this quote of the entire text and an explanation at The Daily Kos or just about any other place that cares about poetry.  Also, some poems are best read aloud - way loud, with gestures.


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