– for D.F.
“What do you want with me…?”
“We pigs are brainworkers.” – Napoleon
“Who is going to save me?” – Wilbur
Sundays during slaughter time, when work and days
Are a matter of acres and seasons, pink flesh
And exposed blue-white bone
Are surely signs of progress—satisfaction—fertility.
And when autumn begins to spit snow from its mouth
We’ll fire up the fifty-gallon drums for boiling skin
From the herd. With our blue knuckles now scalded red
We’re allowed to pretend we know Odysseus’s swineherd.
He’s a neighbor, say, who might need to borrow a pritch,
Lend his spare block-and-tackle or resharpen a bell scraper
On our millstone.
And that’s when Monsignor comes by to bless it all
One bullet at a time. It doesn’t take long after we call
And he’s there almost immediately.
There’s no dying soul,
No family grief; it’s all just business. “Tail
To snout” he likes to say, quoting from some other good book.
So Monsignor takes off the blacks and Roman collar
This Sunday, leaves them back at the rectory
And dons red buffalo plaid and tattered bibs.
“Scares the devil out of the herd,” I once heard him explain
“Don’t like black or maybe they just know.”
Is one of his strong points.
This day is full of a sky
Afflicted with a tin-foil glare from broken clouds—
It’s the day he’s chosen to come help because
He generally likes the business
And specifically on a Sunday. “Not unnecessary work.
A form of relaxation, I would call it.”
He grew up downwind of a giant swine operation
And of course raised his own and has some opinions on swine.
He knows his pig flesh, alright, the way
A horse trader knows teeth and hoofs.
Monsignor lowers the blue-barreled gun,
A pistol without history – it knows neither wars nor duels
But only a resting place between hunting seasons.
He stares the hogs down, and anoints
Their lives with purpose, cruel
For business, and kind but for no kind of fun.
Afterwards, he walks back to his car
To clean the muzzle and chamber.
Throats cut, they wait
With us for his return.
We don’t let him near the boiling pot.
He’s no good at that part.
But he has a great eye
For parting flesh with a .45.
And maybe for that reason he was made a Monsignor,
But when he scalds the flesh he scrapes too much flesh with the hair
And very little hair with the flesh.
Put him off to visit with the children
Or maybe put a beer in his hand and tell him to rest a bit,
Though rest isn’t in his nature anymore than
It is in the clouds that scud like corpuscles across the sky.
He was born on a farm and to hear him tell it he fought
Half the day with earth and flesh, the other half,
All blood work.
If given half a chance he could shine
Like the best of rural vicars and squires.
At any rate, his place in literature
May one day be secure—
Interpolating experience and innocence
With marksmanship and common sense:
“Pigs are a good investment—nothing wasted if you do it right.
Efficiency is in the nature of swine.”
“Why else,” Monsignor would add, “would the desperate demons
Of Gerasene plead with our Lord. ‘Let’s get the hell out of here!’
You can almost hear them say. It must have been a favor,
Well, maybe not a favor; more a false mercy, for our Lord
To provide that herd, that cliff, the sea beneath.
But there’s no mercy for demons, of course. That’s a figure
Of speech is all. Literature is full of them. But Scripture
Only uses it on purpose. No levity with that sort of business.”
Literature, indeed, I nod. Napoleon and Wilbur
Might talk past each other among the cold clouds
That gather and disperse in winter configurations above our heads.
But also in the sense that fictional pigs make of life and death.
It’s all fantastic friendships for nostalgia’s sake
Or a drudging work detail
To serve as footstool for naked power—
Pink flesh and blue-white bone for them—and sometimes for us.
But Monsignor? He doesn’t even bother to say–
And he gives it no more thought
Than a man of the cloth ought to be
Expected to do:
We watch him hold the pistol like an aspergillum.
And he anoints them both—Wilbur and Napoleon—
With one shot.
I found this somewhere online and thought it would be a great idea for a Korrektiv Poetry Contest. We haven’t had one of those in a while, so why not? Winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd and two Honorable Mentions) will be announced on Shakespeare Day 2017 (April 23). Each will receive – well, something Shakespearey, I suppose.
- Each participant may submit up to three (3) sonnets each.
- Each submission must be a Shakespearean sonnet (Shakespearean in form and in style: archaic Elizabethan language and all (see Gaynor example above)—the more clever the better chance the submission has of winning).
- Each submission must retain the title and composer of the original pop song (again, see above).
- Each submission must be a reworking of a recognizable pop love song (not something your sister’s best friend wrote and composed on a kazoo)—with a theme of either love desired (e.g. “I Want Your Sex”), love gained (e.g. “You Light Up My Life”), or, like Ms. Gaynor’s immortal work, love lost.
- All poems must appear in the comment box for this post for consideration.
- Winners will be notified in advance of the official announcement here at the Korrektiv.
- And, yes, the contest is decidedly open to all members of the Korrektiv Kollektiv.
- DEADLINE: April 1, 2017
Then get scribbling!
From Evelyn Waugh: Portrait of a Country Neighbor by Frances Donaldson:
He entertained himself with grandiose projects in his garden. He built what became known as The Edifice – a semi-circular stone wall about ten feet in height, surmounted with battlements and with a paved area beneath it. When this was finished he advertised for human skulls to adorn the battlements. He received a surprising number of replies, which I doubt he had expected, and he had to refuse most of the offerings.
“Here’s Evelyn walking up the stairs towards his Gothic Edifice a year or two after its erection. At some point, when there were six spikes along the top of the colonnade, a visiting American asked what they were for. Waugh replied that he was planning to put skulls up there and had advertised for such in Country Life, Tablet and The Times. A deliberately obfuscating answer? It looks to me that it’s saints, or monks, or other such revered figures that Evelyn actually erected.”
— From Duncan McLaren’s wonderful Waugh website.
…or younger, anyway.
So JOB was visiting the Dappled Things website, as one does, and he stumbled across this in the “featured poem of the day” department: a little ditty he composed a while back for some M.L. character…
[Image: Gargoyles at Notre Dame, and the Café Grotesque mascots they inspired.]
From the Sister Sinjin blog: What Does Creativity Look Like Within the Covenant and Constrictions of Life’s Obligations?
When we met for the first time we talked about creativity as our culture celebrates it: Freeing yourself from distractions, surrounding yourself with all things beautiful, being lost inside the space created for yourself whether in nature or a coffee shop, throwing off any labels the world has placed on you and discovering your true self. Who doesn’t want all of that from time to time?
We are at a different stage in our lives, however, where time for leisurely creativity is at a premium. And do we even want that? We all have families and loved ones that we’re not willing to sacrifice to art.
Elise threw out the phrase “Creativity of Obligation” as a topic for exploration. What does it mean to be creative while embracing the roles, responsibilities and obligations of mother, wife, friend, minister, employee, Christian?
What if creativity does not flow best into the limitless space we strive to create around ourselves? What if, instead, it is pressed out of us by the constant, repetitive, unending cycle of daily life? What if creativity is not the result of acting on our every desire, but rather what’s found after everything else has been drained from us?
Maybe there, in the uncomfortable realities of our lives is where creativity is expressed, because it must be in order to survive the exhausting and the mundane. Maybe creativity is more incarnation than transcendence.
Creativity of obligation requires us to show up with all our baggage and create something anyway.
Two weeks after we first met we began recording an album. We have carved out space though it has been brief and hard won. Most of our creative process, however, has happened with children surrounding us, in dirty kitchens and cluttered cars.
If we had all the time and resources in the world we could create something more grand, more elaborate, but not more beautiful. What results will be all of what we had to give in a brief period of time with pinched pennies and crying babies at our side.
Our obligations do not stop us from creating, they compel us.
Oh, my. A bondage-themed chandelier made from actual women, some cantilevered over the scene, backs arched and hands manacled over their heads, some supine with their legs spread and raised to heaven… Lady Gaga, perhaps? Or Madonna at the height of her “Express Yourself” antics?
Nope. The “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” number from 1953’s featherlight rom-com Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. They’ve got women working as candelabras, too!
See me up there in the upper right-hand corner?
As Percy would say, I’m “validated” like the young man who sees his own town in a film or lights up William Holden’s cigarette without acknowledging that he knows Holden knows he knows who Holden is, etc.
(p.s. This is not meant as a provocation, so please if you have anything bad to say about the current president, I would refer you to previous dust-ups at this blog on that issue, which I won’t even link to because I don’t think it bears any relevance to this post. Here, it’s all peace and joy and I don’t really care what you think about the current president – I’m making a Percian point here, which is much more important.
As a smoking/meat-smoking friend of mine in California might say, “Oh, you don’t like my politics? That’s nice. Did I mention that I bake bread?”
Except in my case I would say, “Did I mention I make a helluva good Chicken Cacciatore and that I can make you a martini that you will never forget? Sit down right there at my kitchen table and I’ll stir us a couple, and then let’s light up a smoke—cigar for you? Perfect!—and cigarettes (unfiltered) for me. Let’s talk then about the beauties of poems that completely nail the execution of a perfect enjambment of lines, of women who wear their hair down, of early R.E.M. albums and whether they were meant to be concept albums in the tradition of Pink Floyd and Yes but tinctured with a Southern Gothic ethos, of love in a time near the end of the world, and of children and how, one way or another, the little dears are going to get you out of bed in the morning. Yes—oh, and how’s your drink? See? I told you so….Cacciatore will be ready in about 20 minutes. How ‘bout another round?” )