Fable of the Fortieth Sheep by Rumjhum Biswas

The fortieth sheep introduced himself
creating confusion in the ranks.

The fortieth sheep expressed a desire to sing
and there was misery amongst his peers.

The fortieth sheep read out a poem he’d
written making them cringe with embarrassment.

The fortieth sheep was ostracized and banned
from fence jumping in dreams.

The fortieth sheep was led out to pasture
in Coventry where he munched his greens

exchanged views with birds and worms alike,
kept track of the stars each night.

The fortieth sheep lived to be one hundred and twenty nine.
And they came in droves from near and far

to seek his blessings. The fortieth sheep
rapped their knuckles. He spoke his mind.

They listened in awe. Recorded his words
verbatim. The fortieth sheep copyrighted everything.

When the fortieth sheep died they put up a plaque.
They published his poems in a leather bound book. They

even named a constellation after him. But in
the lullabies that the mothers sang to their lambs

they slipped in subliminal warnings. For herd
discipline must always be maintained. Verbatim.

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