You accuse me of herding
with creatures of the same bulk
and hide. You say that like sheep
and cattle I conceal myself
against predators by blending
into a background so dull
it stifles the spark of drama
that triggers hunger and the hunt.
No wonder that living risk-free
I’ve failed to excite the masses.
No wonder my scant publications
haven’t banned me from Russia
or China, where cover stories count.

Autumn light relaxes on the lake
in various earth tones. You dare me
to steal a rowboat moored behind
a cottage shut for the season
and row you across the lake
to picnic with lobster rolls and wine.
But like Wordsworth I fear rebuke
of mountains, and confess that feeling
herd-ish I’d rather stay ashore
and have coffee at the general store.
You weren’t serious about the boat,
but you do find me sheepish,
readily shorn. Not really bovine,
though, lacking that leathery stance
that braces itself against the glare
and casts a muscular shadow.

The creatures with whom I herd
are absent at the moment. Later
we’ll gather to discuss a novel
or film or The Basement Tapes
of Bob Dylan and The Band.
You won’t join us. The herding
instinct has never touched you,
so mocking it comes easily—
the earth tones of the lake-light
distorting reflections overlaid
with ripples the color of brains.