The Secret Society of Cattle by Matthew David Manning

Matthew Manning PhotoA secret society of cattle refuses

to be anyone’s property.

They don’t recognize the uses

of their every ounce.


Their flanks have never been mixed

with the powder packet

in your Hamburger Helper

or the off-brand that

almost tastes like the real thing.


The Hindus haven’t collected their urine

and distilled it to cure illness.

The cattle don’t like the term bovine

because bovine’s too generic.

In fact, because they’re cows,

they use no words at all.


Spread out and confident,

they graze the large land

never scared, standing tall.

A dead beefwood tree lies sideways

in the middle of the pasture.

The cattle are drawn to its stillness.

Silent and white,

it keeps their perfect attention.

~ Matthew David Manning

Bio: Matthew David Manning is a poet from Pittsburg, Kansas where he teaches at Pittsburg State University in the Intensive English Program. Matthew holds degrees in creative writing from Arizona State University and Pittsburg State University. Matthew is passionate about educating non-native English speakers about poetry, and recently returned from spending two years in Suzhou, China.

Guest editor Eric McHenry’s new book of poems, Odd Evening, will be published by Waywiser Press in 2016. His previous collections include Potscrubber Lullabies, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007, and Mommy Daddy Evan Sage, a children’s book illustrated by Nicholas Garland. He also edited and introduced Peggy of the Flint Hills, a memoir by Zula Bennington Greene. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, Yale Review, Cincinnati Review, Field, Orion, The Guardian (U.K.), Poetry Daily and Poetry Northwest, from whom he received the 2010 Theodore Roethke Prize. Since 2001, he has been a poetry critic for The New York Times Book Review. He lives in Lawrence with his wife and two children and teaches creative writing at Washburn University.


3 thoughts on “The Secret Society of Cattle by Matthew David Manning

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s