“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

—Douglas Adams

A dusting of cows in the river valley

at the base of the mountains

are not like those in Washington who can’t agree

again this morning

like the cigarette in his friend’s hand will always be

the cigarette in his friend’s hand

as Romania is always his country, even if

the last king died in exile and he or someone

like him flicks a lighter

and smokes it all the way down to the filter.

There will always be another Romania, just not his,


with its faith and walls


and benches. They never call the barn cats

that come, asses bobbing across a paste of snow,

to the click of a door latch.

They bend their spines to the soft sickle

of palms, purring for nothing like water

which sluices down a logging chain

his friend fixed to the eaves, dripping snowmelt

from its dangled hook,

filling a depressed stone like an IV. He can’t remember

who said, “If you make enough money to live

here, you’re rich.” They meant

itsy bitsy cows set against a mountain, pastorals


no one has to paint.