Eight Songs of the Buffalo

As discussed in more detail in Pseudonyms, during a romance many years ago, which has continued as a friendship to this day, it amused the lady and me to assume artiodactylic personae – I as a buffalo, she as a doe. Over the years I have written many doggerels for her in this persona. Here are some of them.

The order Artiodactyla, or Even-Toed Ungulates, is the classification both American buffaloes (Bison bison) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) belong to. As artiodactytls we maintain a traditional disdain for our rivals, the awkward perissodactyls (Odd-Toed Ungulates).

In 1998 the Doe returned to the University of Florida, where she had been an undergraduate, and got a Master of Arts degree in journalism. Then she drove back to the San Francisco Bay Area. I wrote this poem for her then.

The Italian epigraph is a swipe at T. S. Eliot, who used it in dedicating “The Waste Land” to Ezra Pound. The phrase, meaning the better craftsman, is from Dante, who used it in the Purgatorio about the troubadour Arnaut Daniel.

WESTWARD DOE!

© 1998 by Joe Buffalo

In memory of Robert Browning
il miglior fabbro

The Doe is created a Master of Arts!
See how she leads the gazelles and the harts!
For she is an artiodactyl of parts!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

Her thesis is finished, she’s done all the rest,
And now she’ll return to her home in the West,
Heading on back to the place she loves best,
Where all of her hopes will be put to the test.
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

See the Doe pile all her stuff in her car!
Westward she’ll drive now, to follow her star.
Computer, and rice cakes, and that’s the last load –
Out of the driveway and onto the road!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

The animals wait as the Volvo draws near,
And just as it passes they let out a cheer.
For the Master of Arts is the Doe of the Year!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

Florida, Georgia, and then Tennessee,
Missouri, Nebraska. Wyoming is next,
Then Utah, Nevada, and finally home.
This stanza don’t rhyme, but hey, those are the states!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

The Doe is not panicked. The Doe takes her time.
She makes ninety phone calls. Each one costs a dime.
And when she has finished she’s lined up a gig,
And another. Another! She starts to get big!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

She consults and she teaches. She does it her way.
She writes when she feels she has something to say.
The Doe is terrific! Superb! Nonpareil!
And doing quite well at the end of the day.
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

See her bedazzle an entrepreneur.
Consulting agreement? He snaps at the lure.
One-twenty an hour. She stops being poor.
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

See how her résumé thickens and grows.
Her rolodex fattens with people she knows.
Within her profession she rises to fame.
Post-nominal letters trail after her name.
She’ll do a survey for thousands of bucks.
Into a row stroll the last of her ducks.
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

The ducks all start singing. They’re quacking with praise.
They look at the Doe with a rapturous gaze,
At a Doe who has triumphed, despite some false starts,
And all by becoming a Master of Arts!
Yay! M.A.!

In 1998 the Doe was active in The Well, an on-line community of which I was not a member. One of my imprisoned clients asked me to post a notice on the Internet for him. Having nowhere to post it, I asked her to put it up on there. She promised to do it, but then didn’t. I reminded her and she still didn’t. So I sent her this poem – it is intended to be read in a Caribbean accent.

POSTED DA SCREED

A Calypso of the Islands
© 1998 by Joe Buffalo

Sung to the tune of “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid.

To hear the music, watch the dazzling original sequence from Walt Disney’s 1998 animated film, with Samuel E. Wright singing “Under the Sea,” music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman. Watch in full screen mode for best results.

Posted da screed!
Posted da screed!
O yes I did that!
O yes I dood that!
O yes I deed!
Don have to hear dat fellas pleas
He can get up offa him knees
I been typed it onto de keys!
Posted da screed!

YAH!

Posted da screed!
Posted da screed!
O yes I did that!
O yes I dood that!
O yes I deed!
When dat screed wen up at las
What a load it was off my ass!
Dat internet, mon, she be fas!
Posted da screed!

YAH!

I got no worry now,
I got no need;
I got my leaf now,
I got my seed;
My mind be all rested now,
My spirit all freed –
Posted da screed!

YAH!

Posted da screed!
Posted da screed!
O yes I did that!
O yes I dood that!
O yes I deed!
Now its on dat Well indeed
For everybody to read
Fellah looked dere, dats what he seed!
Posted da screed!

YAH!

[Reprise]

The Doe is a newspaper reporter by profession, an endangered species in the present age. She was often concerned that her job might be eliminated and that she might be laid off. Despite many waves of layoffs this never happened to the Doe; in my view this was because she had made herself indispensable to her editors. I wrote this doggerel for her, for encouragement.

THE INDISPENSABLE DOE

© 2008 by Joe Buffalo

[To the tune of “Embraceable You,” by George Gershwin.
Listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing the song.]

Mass layoffs
Spare the Indispensable Doe.
Some panic,
But not the sensible Doe!
Papers cease to publish.
They are thinning the herd.
The Doe, undaunted,
Churns it out in Microsoft Word.

The New York bureau,
Well, it may have to go.
But ax the white-tailed one?
The answer is NO!
She won’t get sloppy
With her copy,
That’s a place she won’t go –
The Indispensable Doe.

The Doe was sometimes elusive and withdrawn, and this concerned the Buffalo. Here are three lyrics designed to flush the Doe from her covert.

I KNOW THE DOE TO BE A BLONDE

I know the Doe to be a blonde,
And of her blondness I am fond.
If someone says she’s a brunette,
I think that person is all wet.
Whoever says her hair is red
Should be examined in the head.
I know the hue of every tress,
And furthermore … but I digress.

The Doe’s in an elusive mood,
With broccoli her only food.
Her mailbox fills with unheard messages.
Who knows what state of mind that presages?

The Bison’s going to New York,
The home of shellfish, beef and pork.
He hopes the Doe will stay in touch
Because he cares for her so much.

New York is far away, that’s right.
But phone calls go the speed of light.
To be connected, push the keys –
The call goes through with rapid ease.

The moral that this story proffers:
Accept support a bison offers.
The forest’s dark, and friends are few,
So stay in touch with those in view.

Shave and a haircut,
Twenty dollars.

STILL ELUSIVE IS THE DOE

Still elusive is the Doe.
She wanders silent through the wood.
I am a bit concerned, although
I’m sure she’d call me if she could.

A deer of mystery, she glides
From sylvan grove to bosky glen.
Within the forest deep she hides.
I’m sure she’ll call me soon. But when?

As she glides through all that lumber,
I wonder what she thinks, the Doe.
Perhaps she has misplaced my number?
753-6190.

I hope the Doe is doing well.
Who knows, when she keeps out of sight?
Without a call it’s hard to tell.
Perhaps she’ll call me soon. Tonight?

YO! YO’ MAI’BOX BE FU’!1

When push comes to pull,
And then push comes to shove,
Your mailbox is full,
Like the wings of the dove.

As a figure of speech,
The above makes no sense,
But it rhymes and it scans,
Which this stanza sure don’t.

This doggerel was written for the Doe on her birthday, August 25, 2013, while I was in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz Ala-Too Mountains rise just outside Bishkek. I was probably the only Jew in Bishkek on that day. The number 28 is, let us say, an approximate value.

BIRTHDAY GREETING TO THE DOE

O noble Doe, O graceful Doe,
O Doe of softest nose,
Another birthday comes, and then
Another birthday goes.

Connecticut’s a tricky word
To fit into a poem,
So let’s just say New England was
The Doe’s ancestral home.

It was a day in August, and
The hour just at dawn,
When all the Forest came to cheer
The Advent of the Fawn.

A wise old Owl did prophesy
The Fawn would thrive and grow,
And would, in time, transform into
A most distinguished Doe.

How many years ago that was,
The Doe will not relate.
But I know, for I looked it up:
The Doe is twenty-eight.

Even here in old Bishkek,
Beneath the Ala-Toos,
The Kyrgyz are rejoicing now,
And so too are the Jews.

Let fireworks rise, and leave behind
A pink and azure glow,
To celebrate that happy day:
The Birthday of the Doe.

The Doe lives almost exclusively on broccoli and rice cakes. That circumstance prompted this birthday paean.

A Birthday Song for the Doe

Copyright © 2015 by Joe Buffalo

Happy Birthday to the Doe!
The years have left undimmed her glow.
She toils, but yet she also spins –
Whichever way she turns, she wins!

While others sag, the Doe is sleek.
With slender mien, and bold physique,
And graceful form, she’s proved it’s true
That broccoli is good for you.

Those who live on other fodder
Ultimately start to dodder.
But broccoli will keep a Doe
All fluffy-tailed and set to go!

Poppy Bush refused to taste
His broccoli.  O, what a waste!
He is a total wreck today,
While Janis lives to leap and play.

The lesson is both clear and ample.
We can learn from her example
Just how we can retain our youth.
Eat broccoli!  And that’s the truth!

San Francisco
August 20, 2015

  1. Of course the mailbox referred to here is an electronic mailbox.