Belts and Bodies

That year I got to be an expert
at pulling the belts from the pants
of dead white soldiers.
I’d bring home ten, twenty in a night–
the women would divide them by firelight,
see if any would fit the men
or the children in their lives.
The rest they scrapped,
made into bootlaces and purse strings
ties for the shelters and,
when we were starving, stew.
It got to be a hobby of mine
to slip the belts from living mens’ pants,
hand them back with a grin.
It got to where they called me along–
I’d rifle through the pants
then slide the belts off last,
the bodies a comforting presence
the bodies cold and unchanging.
It got to be an intimate dance:
me leaning in close
going through pockets
smelling the meat of them
wondering what the next step might be
after their belts come off–
whether I would undress them fully, and
dance with them, and
who these men were before,
me wondering why they had no place
that they were going to.

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Farming Poem 1

What you remember most is the mud.
The deep boot-sucking mud, the
shallow slip-and-fall-on-your-butt mud. The
tire-spinning mud and
crop-drowning mud. The
manure-mixed mud. The
splatter on your truck mud. The kind of
mud that turns your rolling green hills into a
feedlot kind of mud. The way the
livestock take on this sunken look, with their
feet and legs coated, with their
eyes and noses coated. The
cattle turn the whole fence line into mud. The
hens track the mud into the nests and
smear it all over their eggs. The
hogs lie down in it and roll in it and
turn every piece of bare ground into a wet pit of mud.

Then there is the death and the
half-way-between-death atrocities. The
nasty way everything will
fight for its life, or at least everything
you’re pretty sure you never wanted to survive in the first place: the
deformed heads and too-small bodies; extra limbs on chicks;
fully-formed embryos still moving and peeping in the
batch of eggs you threw into the compost, thinking they were all dead. The
calf with the prolapsed uterus that you had to
shoot because you couldn’t fix it and
couldn’t afford to have the vet out. Well, that you had to have a
neighbor come and shoot because you couldn’t do it. The way the
piglets in a litter will tear each other apart,
ripped ears and scarred faces, just to have the most
drinks from a mommas teats. The day you forgot to put a
nest box out for your rabbit and she
kindled all over the cage wire, eight pink dead kits.

Vampire mythology
does not even begin to
explain the madness.