“The Sausage Master of Minsk” by August Kleinzahler

        I was sausage master of Minsk;
young girls brought parsley to my shop
and watched as I ground
coriander, garlic and calves’ hearts.

At harvest time they’d come with sheaves:
hags in babushkas, girls plump
as quail, wrapped in bright tunics,
switching the flanks of oxen.
Each to the other, beast and woman,
goggle-eyed at the market’s flow.

My art is that of my father:
even among stinking shepherds, bean-
brained as the flocks they tend, our
sausages are known. The old man
sits in back, ruined in his bones, a scold.

So it was my trade brought wealth.
My knuckles shone with lard, flecks
of summer savory clung to my palms.
My shop was pungent with spiced meat
and sweat: heat from my boiling pots,
my fretful labors with casings,
expertly stuffed. Fat women in shawls
muttered and swabbed their brows.
Kopeks made a racket on my tray.

But I would have none of marriage:
the eldest son, no boon,
even with the shop’s renown, was
I to my parents. Among mothers
with daughters, full-bottomed, shy,
I was a figure of scorn.

In that season when trade was a blur,
always, from the countryside, there was one,
half-formed, whose eyes, unlike
the haggling matrons’ squints, roamed
and sometimes found my own.
And of her I would inquire.
Before seed-time they always returned.

Tavern men speak freely of knives,
of this, of that. Call me a fool.
For in spring I would vanish
to the hills and in a week return,
drawn, remote, my hair mussed,
interlaced with fine, pubescent yarn.


Source: Kleinzahler, August. Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems : 1975-1990. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. Print.

Anti-Villanelle

Wikipedia Poem, No. 513

w512

“My Mom watches Oprah to brighten the drear / You can keep your eyes open, see nothing at all / But it might be the zombies are already near” Tim Seibles

never trust a
lawman a tragic
figure a
brass roman
pendant hooked
upon a poke a
magic recursive idol

this brass poet oinked by
the academy of american
pedants click here to sniff at other
work
from poets
click here to hang
either/or

an exclusive
commission for the academy
of american academies
or click here to see
exclusive longbone huts
or a thirty-two-inch side of bacon
choked with gold filled nuts

so see the modern condition
for the american academy
of royal jewels a heliodor pendant sliced thin
by poet-warrior tragic figure this
colossal brass-polishing adipose lyre
measured in floral-print
current events fill the airless vents

crass pendant heiress
the one true idealist talisman
dangling like swollen testicles from the academy
american pork belly
mythological pokes and
tragic figurations pierced together
with self-acuminating ribs