Regular Poem: You Keep Using That Word…

24 Apr

I’m suspicious
these folks don’t know what
feral
means.

It doesn’t mean
nuts to the max.
It’s not shorthand for
uncontrollably excited.
It’s not synonymous with
rabid.

It refers to a previously domesticated animal now living in the wild, reverting to a natural state,
which I guess in some contexts
fits what they’re trying to say.

But really,
technically,
it’s a neutral word–
doesn’t have the feverish fervent connotation
they want it to.

Therefore,
say,
a opossum
(yeah I use that indefinite article;
the o is silent)
hissing in a dumpster
is not feral.
She’s just
pissy
that you interrupted her.

I’m being pedantic about it tonight

because I’m so tired of seeing it–
overuse of an initially innocuous maybe even pleasing phrase is not only annoying in its own right
but also especially annoying because the more I see something
the more I’m inclined to analyze and investigate it
and be pedantic about it,
and heaven knows:
pedantry [even from me, who is very pretty and very clever]
is very annoying–

And also because I recently did a bunch of reading on so-called wild horses,
and technically these pockets of free-range mustangs in the American West
are not wild but feral,
and I still haven’t stopped thinking about that.

The idea of feral horses
with the connotation of feral so often in common use
is hilarious and sort of frightening.
They’re so big
and so skittish and so weird, even when well-trained.

I bemusedly found myself at a horse rescue a while back,
and the gal running the joint was an old hick lady,
so of course we got on well,
and anytime you get on well with any old lady
there comes a time in the course of the interaction
where she’s forgotten her reading glasses somewhere and squints at her phone and pulls it away from her face and brings it in close to her face and pulls it back again and finds the correct distance where she can see
and then scrolls through a bunch of pictures of restaurant menus and blurry shots of grandkids
and finally finds the things she’s actually wanting to show you

(I have always loved old ladies,
and now in this current technological landscape
they’ve really brought their a-game to changing with the times but still retaining their old lady essence, and I hope to follow their example as I age and gradually become an old lady to some younger woman who will laugh at me and with me and love me and appreciate me at the same time).

And the thing she wanted to show me was the horse bite
on
her
fucking
face.

She has worked with horses her entire life. Some of the horses have lived with her for decades.
Every single horse at this place
came from abusive origins,
and yet in the five hours I was there
I didn’t see a single one startle.
They were all gentle and socialized to people,
ate right out of my hand,
nuzzled my neck–
what a testimony to the sympathetic and comprehensive care this woman has shown.

So if a sweet and well-loved horse can do that accidentally
(the biting horse had been in and out of consciousness while giving birth at the time of the incident)
what might a feral horse be capable of?

I’m kind of arguing against my own point,
but also no I’m not.

Most animals–domesticated, tame (tame is on an individual level rather than a species level which is where domesticated lives), feral, or wild–are just minding their own business,
reacting to stimuli,
defending themselves if need be.
They don’t typically
actively seek out conflict.

When you’re at the zoo
and
see a tiger pacing its cage
or
a polar bear swimming figure eights
they’re not biding their time and planning something.
They’re just understimulated–
what they’re doing is called a stereotypy,
and they do it when they as LeAnn Rimes would say
got nothin’ better to do.

In conclusion,
feral
doesn’t mean
wild
unrestrained
unhinged
on-the-edge
always ready to bite and scratch and commit crimes.
It’s just animals being animals
after they’ve been pets or livestock.

Author’s Note 1:
Language is a device
with frequent updates.
Maybe feral does mean what you want to pretend it means;
as long as whom you’re communicating with understands,
no harm no fowl (pun!).
I’m just in a mood
and still
perpetually
thinking about
feral horses
as a phrase as a concept as an actual thing that exists
and needed to talk about it more.

Author’s Note 2:
Most animals are just minding their own business.
Except the domesticated cat.
Whether a housecat or feral, cats are dicks
and do very much seek out whatever trouble
they find themselves in.

2 Responses to “Regular Poem: You Keep Using That Word…”

  1. Silver Screenings 26 April 2020 at 12:23 PM #

    THANK YOU for the feral vs. wild discussion. This is a minor pet peeve.

    Also: The description of the old lady and her phone is priceless, but also tender. So vivid, and that is good writing, my friend.

    • TheBestofAlexandra 26 April 2020 at 1:38 PM #

      It’s been bouncing around in my brain for a while becoming a less minor pet peeve in the process lol

      Thanks so much!

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