Herd mentality – Sharon Larkin

Herd mentality

What panicked the sheep was invisible.
One second, ewes were grazing in green pastures,
the next, a report from some silent starting pistol
sent them sprinting, faster than ovines
should ever have reason to travel.

Nothing pursued them –
no hound or horse or bird of prey.
No farmer had come to tempt his girls
with trailer-loads of beets or hay
but some were leaping lamb-like,
all hooves aloft, then turning, as one,
to charge again from whence they came,
stampeding forth and back beside the wall
which some began to clamber on,
to disappear beyond – where a year before,
we found a sheep’s corpse, bones picked clean.

We knew a steep slope fell away
a few feet further on, into the quarry below,
feared a lemming-like scene there,
wondered what weed or bane, opioid or hemp,
could drive beasts to madness such as this.

Back home, we’re alarmed by news
of stock market crashes, supermarket dashes,
clashes in aisles as folk go overboard
for toilet rolls.

We can’t make sense of theories
about herd immunity
or appeals for distance and isolation
as sixty thousand flock for four days on the trot
to the races, and others jump
aboard their last flight home.

We try to fathom stats and graphs.
that attempt to flatten the curve,
choke when asked to swallow the pill
that our loved ones will be lost.
It spooks the flock out of us.


Sharon Larkin’s ‘Interned at the Food Factory’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2019. Her poems have been anthologized by Cinnamon, Eyewear and more, and regularly appear in magazines eg Prole and Obsessed with Pipework, and on-line eg Ink Sweat & Tears and Atrium. She has a poem forthcoming in Magma. Sharon organizes Poetry Café Refreshed, is Gloucestershire’s Stanza Representative and runs Eithon Bridge Publications and the Good Dadhood e-zine. Sharon has a Creative Writing MA and is passionate about Wales, photography and the natural world.

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