on the true ruminants

sam sax

the pig isn’t & yet its hoof

is cloven how god wants it—

tho be wary the split foot

which draws a butcher in

not knowing the beast to be

monogastric as we speaking are—

why would any god want

our meat many-stomached?

seems arbitrary & yet

to ruminate means to consider

to chew this life into something

more digestible. a cow might

spend half its living just ruminating.

it’s true, you are what what

you eat eats & how. how

many methods are there

of keeping the body clean?

that we experience joy

besides unspeakable suffering

must pass through the rumen,

reticulum, omasum, &

abomasum before being

absorbed by the bloodstream.

let us praise the pig instead

for saving its own damned self

from the executioner simply

by swallowing everything at once

once & for all. out in the fields

the true ruminants are lowing

attempting to make sense

of the grasses while the schochet

sharpens his blade & turns

his attention at last toward

the reader.

sam sax is a queer, jewish writer and educator. They're the author of the forthcoming PIG; Madness, winner of The National Poetry Series; and Bury It, winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. sam's received fellowships from The NEA, Poetry Foundation, MacDowell, and is currently serving as a Lecturer at Stanford University.
Originally published:
April 12, 2023


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