By Emily Pettit

A goat is not a sheep, though I know people
who have made this mistake not meaning
to be flippant. This is not how to start a fire

with sticks.
I do not believe that music comes from a place of silence,
just as life does not begin from a point of stillness.

After passing the farm with the goat
it was important to slow down.
Hello goat. Hello officer. So easy to lose track

when going downhill. It isn’t always easy to become calm
after such an outburst of excitement.
Some people don’t have their animals down.

I myself would not recognize a mongoose,
but I know the word mongoose and I know it refers
to an animal, a mammal. I imagine it to be

long-torsoed and beady-eyed, but I don’t know.
Remember when we were at that place
where the floor tilted? That was a place

where we could close our eyes.
They were closed. They were open.
We were accumulating information.

Sometimes this meant we were filing things
and we hate filing things and so it goes.
Later we were laughing.

If you fumble, you’d better laugh.
I’ve seen a goat chase a llama and it’s hard
to take that seriously. Some things

we will repeat over and over again.
I said, I want to be a fly on the wall.
Someone said, Be a goat in the snow.

We like to think of shipwrecks
as beautiful fuck-ups
and that goats’ eyes are the secret to goats.

I think if I had a soul it would be saying soul.
To move quietly past a fence without hesitation
is what a goat does.

(Today’s poem originally appeared in The Daily Pen American and appears here today with the permission of the poet.)

Emily Pettit is the author of Goat in the Snow (Birds LLC, 2011) and two chapbooks: How (Octopus Books) and What Happened to Limbo (Pilot Books). She is an editor for Notnostrums and Factory Hollow Press, as well as the publisher of Jubilat. She teaches at Flying Object.

Editor’s Note: I recently heard Emily Pettit read at the Readings at Milk&Roses reading series, a PeopleHerd Poetry Cabaret. She read selections from her newly released Goat in the Snow (Birds LLC, 2011) to the clear delight of the audience. When she read the title poem from her book there was audible appreciation of a higher poetic power. Murmurs could be heard, comprised of oohs and ahs and mumblings to neighbors about how very impressed everyone was with Pettit’s work. For her part, Pettit told the tale of how the book was named before the title poem came into existence, and the poem was created as an afterthought. If you have seen Emily read this piece or have read the book, you are probably thinking something to the tune of “Thank god for afterthoughts.” An exceptionally talented up-and-coming poet, Emily Pettit is someone to look out for, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll buy a copy of Goat in the Snow before its first printing inevitably sells out.

Want to see more by Emily Pettit?
Buy Goat in the Snow


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