Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

My uncle had this old bull. Big, old, rangy and mottled brown and black on white. It had one horn. Hence its name.

Old One Horn stayed out at the far end of the pasture beyond the gulley that cut the pasture in two. Even the cows didn’t like him. He was a loner. He did not like to share the pasture. The grass was his and when a cow got too near, he’d chase her off shaking his wooly head and bellering.

My uncle kept the old bull because despite his obnoxious conduct, the cows always seemed to get pregnant. He was a good bull in that sense. Uncle had ten cows. They were always pregnant. And best, they never failed to deliver a big, healthy calf. There were always plenty of calves to market at the county auction and old One Horn did his job of keeping Uncle in good supply.

The cows always came in to the barn behind the house every afternoon at three o’clock. Lined up with their calves beside them, they came sauntering from the pasture along the fence line. Old One Horn remained beyond the gully as the cows came. It was the only time he did not graze. His head would be up watching the cows.

Uncle would have us kids in the barn throwing bales of hay onto the ground. He would clip the wires holding the bales together and spread the hay for the cows. Lowing, calves bellering, the cows entered the barnyard and began munching the hay. But this peaceful scene lasted for but a minute or two.

No sooner had the cows begun eating old One Horn burst into the yard bawling like a mad demon and shaking his monstrous one horned head. How he got up from the far end of the pasture so quickly after the cows came in has always been a mystery, even to Uncle.

The cows seemed to know his arrival was imminent, for they ate fast and within seconds of old One Horn’s arrival had moved away from the hay. Any unfortunate cow that had not moved fast enough got wacked by the bull’s one horn and a healthy bawling. Even Uncle had to find a safe place on the top rail of the wood fence.

One Horn stood spraddle-legged staring down the cows and calves, Uncle and us kids for a minute or two. Then he would eat the hay. All of it! The old bull would not leave even a straw. And when he had finished, he would return to the far end of the pasture where he would continue grazing into the night. Next day it would all happen again. Same way!

Uncle tried every way to feed those cows before One Horn would burst onto the scene. He even put all the cows and calves in a wood corral one day, but old One Horn broke down the wood rails and chased all the cows out. He seemed unstoppable. And the cows didn’t like it, but they kept getting pregnant.

Good hay management is important when feeding cows. Uncle knew this. But old One Horn, Uncle said, was sort of like the government, he didn’t know when to stop eating. In fact he just didn’t care. He wanted it all and he took it.

One day while Uncle was contemplating ways to feed the cows, old One Horn did something he had not done before. For right in the middle of eating the hay, he began bawling painfully. In minutes he was lying upon the ground and bellering even louder. His belly had bloated considerably. His legs would not hold him up.

The cows watched cautiously from the perimeter and gradually meandered around old One Horn and ate all the hay while he lay bellering. Then the cows left, in single file with their calves beside them, and went back into the pasture.

Uncle looked at old One Horn in disgust.

“You old glutton,” he said. “Serves you right. If you didn’t do such a good job of keeping those cows pregnant, I’d have you auctioned. But, hell, you’re your worst own enemy! And you ain’t no good to me like that.”

Old One Horn’s eyes bulged and he bellered louder. He couldn’t get up. He was full of gas from overeating hay. Uncle just let him lie and went into the house. We kids followed wondering what was wrong with old One Horn. Would he live?

“He’ll be ok,” said Uncle, “soon’s he’s digested all that fodder he’s been guzzling. But it won’t stop him from doing it again. I’ll just have to build a stronger fence for the cows, I guess.”

But the fence didn’t stop him. The cows finally did because they needed hay to make milk to nourish their calves. They stood up to him.

Old One Horn stays at the far end of the pasture across the gulley that cuts it in two. The cows still don’t go there, but they still get pregnant. When the cows come home for hay, old One Horn still watches, but he stays remembering the day the cows angrily chased him from the feed lot. It hurt his feelings. It scared him right proper.

Uncle and us kids remember, too, the day the cows got tired of old One Horn’s gluttonous ways. We stared in disbelief. Now the cows have plenty to eat and they share it among themselves.

And, surprisingly, they leave enough on the barnyard ground for old One Horn to eat a little late at night when he comes in when the cows have gone.

Uncle says old One Horn’s still a worthy bull, for he keeps the cows pregnant and him in calves to sell at the auction barn on Saturdays. “He ain’t eating us out of house and home now,” says Uncle, “now that the cows have stood him in his place. He makes a better bull when he’s lean.”

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Driving home last evening the discussion in our car turned to Washngton, D.C. Not the town, but the politics.

And, of course, the healthcare rumpus, jobs, social services, our schools, immigration,  the portentous direction of our economy, the war…then a dark and heavy silence.

Over the radio played Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” accompanied by the low hum of the car’s engine. We had just pulled onto Airport Freeway among the honking cars and trucks like bumper cars cutting in and out on their mad scramble to nowhere in particular.

“Should conversatons end with solutions?” my spouse ventured.

“Should,” I replied.

“Well this one hasn’t.”

“The problem is not the subject,” I countered. “It’s the place.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” I started hesitantly, “Washington has polarized because we only have two parties. The Dems give everything away to the poor and the Republicans give all the tax breaks to the rich.”

I paused to dodge a car that virtually clipped our front end as it cut between us and the car we were behind.

“When the Dems fail us we vote Republican to punish them. And when the Republicans fail us, we vote in the Dems to punish the Republicans. There’s no alternative parties! It’s a hell of a mess, if you ask me.”

“It is,” my spouse said solemnly. “Extremely volatile!”

“Well, think about it!”  I replied. “The poor have representation and the rich have representation. The middle class has virtually no representation, but gets tapped for the taxes to pay for all this bureaucratic pork!”

The dark silence again as we dodged streaking and careening cars rushing madly down the freeway.

“Wish I could return to the ’50s back on the farm in South Texas,” I muttered.

“It would be simpler,” she said.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “Washington’s just got too close to Texas. There don’t appear to be no good end in sight, either.”

“I understand,” she said.

Dodging an eighteen wheeler cutting across two lanes to make an exit, I whipped the car into the left hand lane and hit the gas peddle to stay with the traffic flow.

“Really!” I said. “So do I. We’re like served a burger on two buns with no beef…and no beef in the foreseeable future, except promises bloated with rhetorical air.”

“Remember when we used to look at the world through the hole in our granny’s screen door when we were kids.”

“You’re memaw had one too?” she said.

“Yep,” I replied. “I used to look at the world through it.”


“Then I grew up,” I said. “Yep. I grew up.”

Pointing the car at the exit ramp, I shot through the melee of jockying drivers for the safety of the service road. A streetlamp blinked out. Others stood like emaciated sentries casting their feeble blueish light upon each intersection we passed as we negotiated a maze of streets on our way home.

If only Washington was as simple, I thought. We pulled off the street through the open garage door to our home. It closed.

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