Upton, Lee

United States, (b. 1953)

Shots of Vodka

  1. Sausage: rumored to mitigate the effects of vodka
  3. First comes sausage, next comes vodka.
  4. Like a layer of packed dirt abused by a coffin,
  5. the sausage waits in the stomach for vodka.
  7. Another shot! A lingering sting
  8. from medicinal history.
  9. Solved: the mystery of your education!
  11. Funny how you never saw vodka
  12. knock you flat.
  13. But then you get up.
  14. You get up and you walk.
  16. You walk until you meet a pig.
  17. And you know what you’re like when you meet a pig.
  18. You apologize to the pig for his future
  20. drilled by vodka. The pig speaks softly.
  21. He says he’s heard he’s not headed for sausage.
  22. Instead, he will be roasted
  24. with an apple in his mouth.
  25. Why, he asks? Why do they put
  26. an apple in my mouth
  28. as if after I’m dead I’m still eating?
  29. If it’s realism they want
  30. they should feed me garbage.
  32. There is nothing you can say to the talking pig.
  33. It’s not realism you want.

Lee Upton. FIELD #84. Oberlin College Press (Spring 2011).

Hog Roast

  1. If the town celebrates
  2. his roasting
  3. it’s their right. He’s their hog.
  4. He’s pork now.
  6. His life in the mash has gone sour.
  7. The bad fairy presides
  8. over his crispy feet.
  9. The prodigal has come back
  11. and does not need
  12. such company.
  13. Now the fires licks this one all over.
  14. Now the fire is giving its best
  16. hog massage. Who will
  17. eat this toasty face?
  18. Corn-fed hog is sweet,
  19. but sweet as a dog to the prodigal,
  21. he’s pork now.
  22. And he cannot know better next time.
  23. He cannot cry to the prodigal:
  24. You, little one, shod
  26. in your doubts,
  27. run along to your gorgeous friends!
  28. He cannot cry:
  29. Let me see your back!
  31. He’s pork now.
  32. So we can kiss—if we want—
  33. his blarney lips.
  34. So? So we’re home,
  36. barely edible,
  37. lonely with the whole town.
  38. So no one’s lonely in hog heaven.
  39. No one’s got cooked feet.

Lee Upton. No Mercy. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press (1989).

About the Poet:

Lee Upton (b. 1953) is a U.S. poet, fiction writer and literary critic. She is a graduate of the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Currently, Upton is a professor of English and writer in residence at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

She is the author of eleven books of poetry, fiction, and literary criticism, including: The Muse of Abandonment (1998), Civilian Histories (2000), Undid in the Land of Undone (2007), and The Guide to the Flying Island (2009).

Upton’s work has also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review and DoubleTake. [DES-03/12]

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