This poem is about my eldest son, Bennett, and a morning in which he witnessed the slaughtering of his grandfather’s cows. I was both sickeningly proud and curiously appalled by his lack of fear toward the carcasses. The poem is also about Mike Teevee, the cowboy kid from them Willy Wonker movies.
Perhaps this is the end of the broadcast day.
They were shot and killed, beheaded even,
before we awoke.
The splayed bodies of the newly christened dead
spewed a mockingly pallid rivulet of steam,
a remembrance for the once-was,
the way you can still hear a set is on
even with the volume muted.
somewhere around our heads
while the cavalier fog was trying its damnedest
to add a touch of low-hanging profundity
to the lurid proceedings.
And it was a palatial masquerade
but we simply sat back in our recliners.
The bloated white stomachs
mimicked weather balloons
and threatened to lift
the carcasses skyward.
“Boy, what a good show.”
He held its tongue and such verdant
word play was rendered in those moments.
But I kept it to myself,
for he was suddenly discovering
the quotient of the stars,
that all was dissolving,
with its million halo-headed
clusters and clouds,
And with every exaltant push,
a red wagon on a yellow day,
comes the pull,
an oxen, divine and laden,
marbleized on a proud wall.
The cow was created to be killed, I told him.
It was a magnanimous tragedy
and the ache of it never touched
that calloused way he stood over them.
So proud of his humanness in that instant.
So proud to be on the side of the butcher
with his sharpened knives blackened
by a dense iron-enriched patina.
Why are you standing over it?
Smiling and dancing with voracious glee?
It couldn’t be possible you sensed
how lucky we were and how unlucky
we would eventually become
and in the end
before the end
the most human of our actions
is the slow subtle tapping
of some vibrato laced flamenco.
Dance that fiery dance that holds
the heavens aloft.
Eat the flesh of others
and resist the urge to recant
when your flesh is eaten in turn.
And the deadpan reporter asks,
What do you think of all the killings?
His cowboy hat, his dial rung back, says,
What do you think life’s all about?