The Goat: dVerse Poets Photo Prompt

Intriguing, unusual and slightly nightmarish… the photos by Phyllis Galembo of masks and rituals are an anthropologist’s treasure trove. Anthony Desmond over at dVerse Poets is encouraging us to use one of those pictures as a prompt for exploring our own masks and underlying boldness. For me, the image below evokes an annual Romanian New Year’s tradition known as CapraThe Goat Dance.

Water Buffalo Devil in Africa
Water Buffalo Devil in Africa

‘Vine capra, vine capra!’

We waited in vain, my cousins and I. There was no goat dance for us that night.

They came in the morning, in the ice-encrusted dawn hours.

‘It gets earlier every year,’ grumbled Uncle Ilie.

But he shrugged on his sheepskin coat and went to open the gates.

The yard filled with men, stamping, drumming.

A squeaky accordeon player stood a little aside to avoid the kicks,

the prancing, the clattering jaws of the goat.

They spoke words we could not fathom, sense now lost, left only rhyme.

Caught up in frenzy of voices, we waved our arms like windmills, tried to catch

the gauzy frills or greasy kid fur,

tried to match it jump for jump,

little knowing that the devils we were chasing

were far too deep within.


26 thoughts on “The Goat: dVerse Poets Photo Prompt”

  1. whew…shiver worthy last line, the devil within…i would love to see capra in person….enjoyed the vid after you introduced it last night…i imagine as a kid the scene like you painted could be magical and a bit frightening as well…

  2. Marina Sofia – Your poem really gets to the soul of these dancers every effectively! Brilliant!

  3. Strong poetics, wonderful sense of place & time; great energy & wordsmithing too. Like the lines /we waved our arms like windmills/tried to catch the gauzy frills of greasy kid fur/. From Africa to Romania; sure why not, I ended up in Tahiti.

    1. These cultural coincidences are lovely! This reminds me of our college kitchen: a student from Zimbabwe asked me how come I knew how to make his national dish – which I thought was the Romanian national dish – which then an Italian student claimed was his national dish. Turned out it was ‘polenta’ (the Italian name is the best-known, I guess).

    1. Glad I was able to introduce you to something new… and thank you for introducing us to Phyllis’s photos. As a former anthropologist, I find them fascinating!

    1. Thank you. I doubt people think much nowadays about the origin of this custom, but I am sure there are many similar traditions all over the world. The Japanese throw beans through the windows at evil spirits etc.

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