I don’t want this to be the poem that ruins bacon. | by Cooper Wilhelm

Somewhere in Kentucky, a sapling of a man named Sky Shivers
praises a nurser for her figure, speaking with the fireside

glow of reverence and fear.
She’s ten years old
and still has a “phenomenal utter line.”

Sky sings us her strength, tells a sow with piglets
stokes within her more danger than a bull.
She’ll uproot ligaments and muscle from your thigh, crush the bone,
the way even a dog in terror never would,
leaving you a panic of black tubes that can’t find each other,
the way bodies are a thing people know
but can never figure out.
Think of the dangle when you hotwire a car,
blue chords, red, yellow cords.
That’s you.

Farmers are more likely to die on the job
than cops. Something about the oldest trades,
the drowned fishermen, fallen roofers,
lightening claiming all who work in fields,
working with the nourishers for their mercy.
An old pig farmer goes to feed his stock
and days later all they find are dentures
peeping from the shit like corn.

A lady
pig will be pregnant 2/3s of her life
her belly hanging like a tablecloth straight to the carpet.
The larger babes in every brood shoulder
the weaker off the most unselfish teats
making runts that die of hunger
inches from their mom as the others eat.

But moving right along, bacon:
Blessed are the swine, whose flesh gets better
with preservation, who offer ever new incentive
to keep them, as a whole, right in our lives.

A shelf of pork passes through the injector with its 196 needles
that will guide it into bacon
the way udders will make a child strong.
Cured with a solution of water and certain compounds
of sodium which, in bigger doses,
are used to poison wild hogs
because each brick makes for easy bait,
is “clinically humane,”
and is safe
for human consumption
at certain doses.
Don’t let the little nuggets near your dog.



Cooper Wilhelm is the author of Klaatu Verata Nikto (Ghost City Press/2016), DUMBHEART/STUPIDFACE (Siren Songs/2017), and Swine Songs (Business Bear Press/2018). He tweets @CooperWilhelm.