Sheep Poem 2

How many times, then, can I describe the exquisite
warmth of hiding your face in the
thick wool of a full fleece on a finewool sheep, the
silken curls, the
stray piece of dead and dried aster, or the
prickly scourge of bramble. And the fields covered in
thick white frost, so thick you mistake it for snow. The
steam that comes from nostrils that are too much like
yours, the steam that rises from the whole body: you
imagine you see her heat the way it comes off a car’s top in summer–
shimmering mirage-waves. And on your knees,
beside your ewe–for you dictate her failures and
fortunes more than she–face burrowed in the
sweet smell of mutton and lanolin and hay-shit and,
when her cud comes up, acetone. The way the
barn is sweet and warm and dry, and the
sheep flock silent and close. Each day
a new day, each day a
new opportunity to
describe the wooly beasts.

To Kill a Rabbit

I catch the rabbit by the back legs,
assess the prize,
savor the victory.
Any old dog would do the same.
Attempt a quick dislocation of the neck,
eyes still wide open,
no kicking fits,
worry that it’s not dead.
Go to string it up by the back legs, it
hangs and does not fight; slice the
artery and it does not bleed; sever the head and
realize it was already dead.
I hope that it would
thank me if it could.

Throw the head to the cats, who
yowl and scuffle and one wins out,
begins to gnaw on the ears.
They don’t imagine regret.
Tear the skin at the neck, start down the belly, find
fat deposits white and veined along the chest.
Move to the back, keep ripping skin,
strip the pelt too easily.
Back to the chest, the
fat goes all the way down the belly, it
does not act like fat,
I accidentally tear it and it spills
white milk that runs and mixes with the red blood on the
butchering table and I
stop breathing with you.
I understand at once,
slow down,
turn to the
setting sun in
agony.
If He really was,
I would curse His name.
I do so anyway.

And then I must finish.
It becomes even more important to finish. The
waste is incredible, it
weighs in my throat, it
beats at my temples, a
thousand rabbits sit on my chest,
I want to be able to cry.
But it must be finished.
The cats gather and I throw the mammary sacs down to them.
They growl and slurp at the sweetest milk,
perverted children,
while the deserving kits will starve.

Peel the skin backwards across her paws,
save her rabbits feet. The
cats come looking for more and I
throw them the pelt, too delicate to save.
Cut open the belly, pull out the insides,
relieved to find no pinkies inside, no wonder her
milk was so rich, her
glands so swollen.
I rinse the milk and blood from her body,
revel in the pinkness of the meat, she is
so beautiful.
Honor her as best I can with
herbs and it will
never be enough.

Spirit

You’ve felt it shivering its way into your shadows, a
spirit-being so physical that you’d swear it was just beside you, that
feeling like when you turn to see
who’s joined you at the table and find your
cat sitting there, wide-eyed black pupils eclipsing the face. This
almost-physical follows you everywhere,
bumps against the back of your knees,
knocks elbows,
clings to your neck,
piggy-back rides you,
drives the hunger from your body,
swallows your words before you speak them. When you ask your
friends about the spirit, they
smile and remind you that the storm is coming. You ask the
cashier at the grocery store if she can see it, and she gives you a
dazed smile. You’d swear she looks just past you.
Rain is on the way, she tells you as she hands you a receipt.
More than you can afford.
Clouds move over the hills and descend upon your home. The
spirit becomes restless; it
kicks the corners of your soul with
violent rabbit’s legs. The
trees wave their branches in
surrender at the quickening wind,
but they are still beat down.

Sheep Poem 1

I haven’t told you yet, but
cupping that gentle curve of a
ewe’s soft chin is serene. She
waits, feeling your fingers,
knowing to remain at peace;
peace that is
always interrupted by her
quick hooves when she
runs back to the flock–
you are not the only one to
experience impatience.
Whether she was
tolerating your affection,
or otherwise:
you held her;
she let you.

Ancient Ones

Me an armored leviathan, a dinosaur chainmail’d, teeth iron-coated, only the
sagging reptilian drag-belly laid bare slipping over the hardpacked winter dirt;

You a stingless jellyfish bobbing slowly with each moon-pull wave, rice noodle
tentacles below, dome pudding body exposed to air, thinking of heaven;

Me an ancient stone warrior, once-buried in a grave alongside a corpse,
looted and exposed to the elements, moss growing along my sharp nose,
down the ornate curls of my beard, face frozen and fallen away long ago;

You the grey vixen, denning pups in a ruined pagan temple, their mewls among
the ivy grown wild across the crumbling stone, your teats heavy with their milk-life.

Snake-Oil Salesman

Begone, Snake-Oil Salesman.
My body has lain in the clear running spring
in these very mountains, and has
risen, the effervescence settling over my skin
as scales,
and me now the serpent
from which you stole your oil,
once my oil, all at once my oil.
Beneath my tongue I feel the venom,
I rise again with no limbs, only
belly muscle after belly muscle after belly muscle
writhing in water,
the slide of dense belly
against jagged rocks, soft orchardgrass, a wayward dungbeetle,
I writhe my way to you
and deliver my venom in one thick glob of spit
straight into your eyes.