Two robots raked a ruin of sheep, and roved a ruin of fields
Here swallows switchbacked over power lines, here the cowboy sat,
Waiting for its four-legged friend in waders to fangle back a straying ewe.
“Fastest gun in the west!”
The cowboy had wailed in the mirror when it waylaid a Walmart for those waders,
Shooting its reflection a second sooner and screechily scaring a shopper into startling
These Boots Are Made for Waulking making the dog-bot tap its metal foot to the radio
When the dog worked its way back across the wetland with the ewe, they went on.
“I’m glad that I am not very smart,” said the cowboy robot in soft sounds over the savanna.
“If I were, I might wonder why I am so full of wonder and waste it on whether the wethers are well, or what it means to be willing to Wrong.”
The dog-bot picked a sheep to pick on,
And the cowboy tried to shoo it.
A few sheep fickled out, but most didn’t wanna be forced into feckless rocks, or fang-faced adders, or false narratives.
There was blood on the ground as the big guy broke through the crowd to figure out what the beast was bearing down on.
“Bay-bee, bay-bee, ohhhh,” the bigger robot said as the dog rebalanced itself, so like those infant videos from big engineering universities.
Meanwhile, the mother ewe in labor, mattering more than matters of predicted history.
Together, they deliver a stillborn lamb.
Bryce Baron-Sips (he/him) is a Chicago-born writer pursuing a Master’s in Evolutionary Biology at Uppsala University. His work has been published in Strange Horizons, VIBE, Wrongdoing Magazine, deLuge Literary and Arts Journal, and he recently finished a novel. He can be found on Twitter @bric_a_bryce.