A Scarecrow in the Garden of Thought

A piece of experimental semi-fiction, concerning the ins & outs of unicorn farming and the possibility that the Bible got it backwordzzz: we is living in times of Apocalyptic Revelation, and Eden is ahead of us. Also somewhat inspired by recently beginning to read Neitzsche for the first time (which I am very much enjoying, despite a few rather unfortunate words about women) thus a possible alternative title could be "Also Spake Farmer John" ;-)

Around 1300 words, reading time estimated at 20 minutes. Metaphorce be with you!

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Sam Knot Unicorn Farmer: Rainbow Horn Warmer

It has to be Monday, because here I am with riddles in my head before the cock has even started crowing. Out of bed, she says, come on, out with it. So I gives a little moan and out I go, doing my best not to disturb old missus warm bot. I sits down at my desk, opens my little indigo notebook, and writes it down word for word, in a circle, just the same as it’s been going round and round my head:

Drawing a line between two things that don’t exist yet.

“Well, there we go,” I says, “all done! Now I’ll put some coffee on, then start in the garden.”

Not so fast, she says, just like always: first you have to sit here and think about it.

“Ah,” I sighs, “fine!”

Well, first thing it brings to mind are some doodles she was having me do a few days back: lines and circles and spirals with different bits of 'em labelled: start, middle, end.

“So it’s start and end I guess? The two things that don’t exist yet?”

Well, do they, or don’t they? She says.

Here we go again!

So, “Yes,” I says: “the start must have existed from the moment the pen touched the page, and the end from the moment it lifted up again.”

That seems a little short-sighted, she says. Again, just like always.

“Alright, no then!”

Because of course: Where did the pen come from? When did this poem really begin? Was it with the silent utterance of that very first word this morning: Drawing? But then where did that word come from? When was it first thought or spoken? First time old limpy dragged his leg across the drawing room floor? First time the curtains ever got drawn? And did it go and change again just then? Same old news o’ the never-ending!

“I suppose it’s going to be yes and no again then, is it dear? But if I says yes, and you says no, well: we can’t both be right, can we?”

Wrong, she says, we can both be right if either one, or both of us, is wrong! Only if we are both rational beings can we never agree to disagree!

Ah, the contrary creature is making fun of me! Referencing recent developments in my stulted attempts to edificate mice elves.

So I will make myself the irrational one. Me, here, on the page – poetry, say. And you, there, off the page, out in the always-already real world: you can be rational man, you can question me, then dismiss my answers as unsatisfactory, again and again, until you hear something a bit more like what you yourself might say, something nice and sensible, easy to agree with. Like, for instance: the start must exist already, else I wouldn’t be able to begin drawing my line, and the end must not exist yet, else we wouldn’t be here thinking about it.

“Well, then I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, dearest.”

“So shall we say that – whatever these two things might eventually turn out to be, whether they are you and me, or prose and poetry – the essence of your message most likely concerns my being requested to meditate upon the sense in which they do not exist, or at least: not yet – correct? But then what do you mean by that, exactly? What do you mean by existence?”

The act of standing out, she says.

Aha! A straightforward answer for once!

“Then do go on.”

Well, what might stand out when the line is drawn? And must something necessarily recede in order that it may? Should we suppose this ever-recessive thing to be our ground – the earth itself perhaps – now becoming background? Negative space? But is it not that in making our mark we have drawn attention to this, too?

Would you like to hear something funny, Old John?
Did you ever hear the one about the genius scarecrow?
Out standing in his field he was!
How existential is that joke?!


Now, why is she on about the bloody scarecrow again? I did my best with it, to atone, to make amends, to find a better way to get along with my so-called feathered friends.

“Why are you on about the scarecrow again, missus?”

The scarecrow is the line we drew, are drawing. This poem is the scarecrow, okay?

The spaces between words are the holes in the old clothes where the hay pokes out. A robin nests in his top pocket, like a punctuation mark. Woodlice are his itches, but also how he scratches them, like stanzas or paragraphs. He wears a Witch’s Hat.

This hat signifies the personality of his creator. It is a very complex sign – style could be its name – but it was a very simple act, giving him that hat, do you remember? A natural one. A moment of inspiration which planted a smile on your gloomy old farmer’s face, on what would otherwise have been a day without a glimmer of sunshine…

Well then, she’s at it again, speaking my own life back like someone else’s story, digging for the moral of it, right? Which means I’ll have done something wrong, but then she’ll make it worth the pain, because in the end it won’t be right or wrong, it’ll turn out good, it’ll be given meaning. That’s what she is I reckon, that’s how she always knows it’s there: meaning. Only it’s never simples, it always leaves me wondering. Which is just precisely what it is, she whispers now, meaning meaning is wonder, more or less, and leaving me none the wiser.

And so all those clothes the scarecrow wears – all that makes up the scarecrow’s skin, all that gives him shape, all that defines him – all this once belonged to Farmer John. Should we then suppose, that in shedding his skin, Old John reveals his nature as something somehow snake-like? Well, is he not, after all, a continual um of spacetimeaning? His earthy existence one long and sinuous slither? Sleep but black diamonds upon his back?

Think back: all those disparate events that came together to make the tip of his time-tail, that will return to chaos from the crown of his old scaly head. But wasn’t this snake once an egg? Was there not a time before head became head, and tail began to trail? And so which part of the snake remains the egg? It would seem to me less like the tip of the tail than a skin that can't be shed! But where would that leave the end? Still got some hatching to do, have we John?

And then what of the scarecrow to the snake? Circle to spiral? Or does that forked tongue bespeak a haunting by the eternal tree? Some impossibly branching path of the One that all beings must be on? Then to whom does existence belong? For whom does Farmer John long? Why does he carry on? Why did he not become the scarecrow himself, hang more than just his clothes on that old cross? Does poetry thus reveal a desire to see him crucified? If this very line is drawn from life, could that be why the old farmer’s face is getting gaunt? Is this poem draining him? Am I a parasite?

Ah, I see. She gets like this sometimes...

“No,” says I, “don’t worry yourself, my dear poetry, you do remain a most willing expenditure of energy. In fact you cannot know how much it is that you return to me. Unless perhaps you contemplate your own beginnings and ends, to find yourself awake in my life again, struggling to rise above subsistence, nourishing my ever-active resistance to becoming a mere blood-pump who must spend all day sat inside a giant robot, nothing more to do with his vital spark than flick that single switch, both start and end, beginning and stop, on and off, repetitive and ceaseless.”

“So I insist on continuing to exist, and you are my path in the garden, to the garden: the end of the farm, and perhaps the origin of it. My own personal Eden. The Transfiguration of Old Farmer John you are! You make me the thought gardener: a ray of sun all the more delicious for that slate grey sky!”

“Indeed, it was in sadness, in loss, that I first erected the scarecrow poem. But it was not in my image, but in hers, that I made him. Although she is my image, if you're asking. Perhaps what's most important here is that we can be seen to share an idea, like that of kind, or friend, making our mutual inspiration that much more evident. The scarecrow never was just a bag of old clothes, you see: his flesh is the fields, the trees are his bones.”

And so, “Welcome to Friend Ship Earth” he says, “an always astonishing partnership of infinitely definite terms: language & person, poetry & garden...”

“...and scarecrow & crow, & sow on, I suppose? You used to be a shotgun, you know? That was my big idea: double-barreled eyes raining lead into the sky, to bring down the clouds of blackness that threatened our lives…”

And then you would feel her eyes upon your back, hey John? Even though she was up by the house, far from the fields. And when you pulled the trigger you would shoot outside yourself, yet what got shot out was too fast to follow. So would you come back to yourself with the echo, like a great angry bat you were, bouncing back off the walls of your world, until one day you got a quick and thorough flash of it:

The line was drawn between your I and the bird, twined through those double-barreled eyes and spun out into the woven sky. And there was no recoil but she who jumped in the garden, she whose shoulders clenched as she cursed you. And there was no recoil but the sudden flight of the hare, the starlings leaping up like dust from a beaten rug, the staggered plops of pond and frog, the hundred thousand eyes of primrose, the strain in the little wren’s throat.

“I don’t blame her for leaving me, poetry,” I sobs.

(And then that thought, without pause, makes itself a joke of sorts – I don’t blame her for leaving me poetry – as if the Goddess herself were my dearly departed, and all I had left were these words to bemuse myself with.)

But I did blame her for it, at the time. It took me a long time to accept that I had scared her off, that I had told her to go, that I had wanted it, too. I have a lot of respect now, for the strength it must have taken her to go, to break all the ties that bound her to her life here. But then she always did have one eye on the lights that twinkle in the night.

How I have wished I could have followed her there! I sometimes wonder if that’s what these lines shoot for: the old farmer’s thoughts tracing themselves before him like the tracks of a unicorn. Because that’s what she was really. That’s what she is, I mean. My delicate white horse-goat shining in the springtime wood, looking over her shoulder at me, standing amongst the hazel trunks above the carpet of bluebells, her dignified animal thought-light twirling gentle but unwavering out that river-run spine.

Let these words find that sparkle again! Let them do what my hands never could and stroke the full extent of that impossible length! Let them call her back to me, in this ruptured silence laying like bee-buzz and birdsong upon the ever-altering altar of the thought gardener’s active prayer...

And so I find myself standing before the scarecrow again, naked except for her black and pointed hat: I have taken that back, for it was never mine to give. “Well, they tell me you were made in our image, old friend? But now we’ve gone and changed again! And all you’ve done is age, it seems to me, worn away here and there like the banks of the stream.”

“But perhaps I’m being mean, or stingy? Somehow limiting you unnecessarily? I can’t quite be sure. In fact, I seem to have forgotten exactly what a limit is! For the life of me I can't retrieve the sense of it!”

“I do remember once saying: these limits are what I am, and it seeming like a revelation somehow. Drawing a line between two things that don’t exist yet, I guess? But why must it always be two things? And why did I look to what I seemed not to be to delimit me? Those strange feline eyes looking out from the butterfly’s wings, fairies surfing on the falling leaves, fucking in the open flowers..?”

When first you felt your fist relax, in response to the lightly clenched smile upon that thirsty horse’s face, what was it but the endless, wordless, rhyming of all ideas, of all ideas based on life.

“Then was it death that I meant to shoot from the sky? If it was: it sure wasn’t mine! Could it be that crow scared me, because it couldn’t scare I? I couldn’t share, I – I am shared now, shared so far around...”

the stream becomes cloud, for a while the cloud rains, then the sun comes out again, makes egg yolk of itself in every sparkling drop that hangs upon her webby cloth

“...I dress myself in your silken armour, love, run my face straight into this impossible freshness of yours, smiling baby-breath warmth of innocence experienced again, for whatever else existence is, it is always a meeting, a reunion of sorts: face to face, no matter how far apart we are in time or space.”

I have the feeling that you wandered through the house again, as I was writing just then. I still feel your feet shuffling through my brain, the skulled sensation of your opening and closing the cupboard door. I stretch my jaw to loosen my earholes, and blow you a kiss, so absent-minded it seems like an echo – only it cannot have been an echo, because I just now realize how very deeply I meant it.

O what a beautiful word that is! Kiss! Seems to peck up the lips! Make 'em food in the belly of the other black bird of poetry: real blackbird: blackbird-blackbird.

Kiss-kiss-kiss – it sounds like what it is! How great is that?! How tautologically unrepresentative! A smack of the lips! A click of the tongue! Our first human word! Nameless name of reverberant verb, still echoing!

Not mama! Not papa! Not cuckoo! Not caca!
But: Look! Here! Hey! Check this out!
Something’s happening! Prick up yer ears mush!

Old Scarecrow John the Unicorn Farmer has come!
Come to demonstrate the limits of Thought Gardening
with a short course in Scarecrow Erection,
dressed in Nothing but the pink satin
Jungian Slip he was born with!
Sensing wife is the safest way to say why
his body might now draw the realest of lines
around the dancing stars of his eyes:
Crow’s Feet, Laughter Lines, Pleasure Paths:
little pots of Rainbow Gold
found far Beyond The End of Thee
Supposedly Psychotic Spectrum!

For who ever needed a clearer picture of freedom than the eversion of their very own limits? Free will never did mean you could just up and fly, right? It always meant something more like: gliders are better than jumbo jets, but your most angelic fantasies better yet – and the devil’s an angel too don’t forget!

So lettuce be a-wary of thinking something needs defending when it does not. Like imagination! Distinguish it from fancy at your peril, boring Beryl! Perfectly pert Ancient Greek bottoms were not sculpted into being to be sat on! This neat and tidy techno-shiny run-a-mockery of civilization always was just begging to be shat on! Culture is a much wilder idea than nature ever was! Yet verily was it spake that to blaspheme the earth has become the dreadfulest of sins, so long as we can grasp that the only mark we might ever really miss must be the heart’s!

And so lettuce be a-wary, too, of thinking something doesn’t need defending when it does. Like every bodies’ Lover Earths against all who would make them but dirt! Like you yourselves against all the wrong ways to think great! There is nothing smaller than an individual, sun, yet nothing more significant than that which might purr-sun-all become! That Witch can never be publicized, nor ever, ever privatized.

It is only in this state of states that any can be said to be drawing a line between two things that do not exist. Yet do. For just as between her & him – or us & them – are she & ze & me & you

so is this I of yours & mine
that has become so hehehe -
so laugh out loud, so law of love,
so “weird is good”-ly funny -
that it & only it might keep
on popping up just to say hi,
that it & only it might help us
flightless birds learn to stay high!
And by means of the hardest magic alone!
By witch, even alone, are we never all one!
By witch, alone, might we only keep on
grinding ourselves back
into the ever-poetic ground,
and by means of these grimy,
more-than-prosaic hands, and feet,
and hearing in our heads that almost vocal fart:
these brainy folds be naught except
the intestines of the heart!

For I Am Our We
/AWE/ 
Am I Our Wee Knot

The very gift we seek to give: 
The gift that never gives,
you dig?

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Sam Knot, Unicorn Farmer: Breeding Grounds.

*

Then Old Farmer John emerged again, from his latest dire tribal thought fog, found himself stood before a little owl, perched upon the gatepost: a larval unicorn. He offered up his arm but the proud creature declined to climb on. “Suit yourself,” he said.

Old Bean, the limbless cow of enlightenment, was ooming away in the corner of the yard; when Brax, the iridescent Dali-giraffe of a cockerel, suddenly went cluck-stalking past. A trio of hares were busy opening a portal in the ruin field.

“I do believe I’ve been dreamin’ again, Old Bean,” said John, “have you seen Mary recently?” The ooming droned to a halt and a deep voice drawled out: “She is looking for her hat in the field again, John.”

Old John caught sight of himself in the pond, then. He was wearing her nightgown, a silky shimmering rainbow slip of a thing, and had her black, pointed, wide-brimmed hat upon his head. The tape recorder that he wore habitually around his neck clicked and whirred, the end of a spool flapping against the casing. “Off!” he said, and then again: “Off!” – but the spool kept on clanking round – “Off! Stop! End! Enough! OK!” – still it kept on going round – “Thank you! Grassy arse? Up! Down! Smile? Shoot? Oh fuck it–” he said, and he clicked off the switch with his thumb.

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(((Peas & Lovage from me & Old John - if you managed to read all that: well done! It needs some work I think, or might just be broke, but I wanted to share it, still.)))

This article was updated on April 9, 2021

Sam Knot

I am a poet and illustrator, originally from the south of England, now living in an old stone house in the middle of the countryside in Normandy, France, with my lovely wife and an assortment of other creatures. Thank you kindly for checking out my work, please don't hesitate to get in touch: iam (at) "this website".