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Read Sweetbreads Poems Online


The Vine Maker

He had seen chicken necks 
twisted and broken in Chinese markets, 
the plucked dismemberment 
of flapping wings. 

With help, 
he could have strung his carcass up 
like a hog on a hook. 
He would have quickly cleaved himself 

from balls to breast, 
but this was a one-man job. 
The cadaver 
had to be bundled, separated and filleted.

Strange but he knows what to do. 
His hands are now sharp as scalpels. 
Fingers are boning blades, lancets, 
curettes and shears. 

He inserts a stiletto under the jaw, 
angling through neck bones, the larynx,
drawing the point downward 
severing jugular vein and carotid artery. 
He does not collect the blood,
but lets it wet the earth. 

He watches the bulbous purple coils 
spill from his abdomen. 
Chitterlings and sweetbreads, 
plump jewels gleam briefly 
then settle on the ground 
in warm mounds. 

A quick slice along the breastbone, 
then ease the ribcage apart, 
scoop out lungs and heart,
- fat catfish from a keep-net. 

Looking upon his piled substance, 
he feels as if the great work of his life 
had now ended well. 
He watches as the meat and offal 
begin to dissolve. 

Soon from the pools of blood 
vine shoots will emerge. 
One day there will be new wine. 

Copyright © Eric Ashford