Numerous Poetic Facts About Swine

"Pigs" and "Slop," two poems by Ellen Welcker

pig face in a fence

Numerous Poetic Facts About Swine


They are born in a flood of magma.
They claw their way to the center of the earth.
They don’t know what a blouse is, and they don’t care.
There are seventeen constellations named for their kin.
They coordinate all the Monday briefings.
When they read the wrong books, they return them to libraries with bookmarks still inside.
They have decided not to have piglets.
They’re opposed to the question, “where is the healthiest seat on an airplane?”
They call their mothers.
They call out corrupt politicians.
In fact, they make calls every day.
They are good at advocating for what they want.
They understand the difference between camouflage and communication.
They do not dream of tumors in their flesh.
They don’t reply to spam.
Shovels are modeled after their mouths.
The sound of drilling makes them nauseous.
They use their perceived softness to their advantage.
They can actually make holes in wood with their snouts.
Which tells you something about softness. And persistence.
They never ask for the “good friend discount.”
They do appreciate the “old friend discount.”
They are made of soap, a little plastic, and red dye #5.
They believe putting books on a body is a healing act.
Their memory is 251 million years old.
They experience the world as time-lapse abundance.
They can’t look up.
At night when they are sleeping, wrestlers come.
They don’t use the word “casualty.”
They are excellent listeners.
They don’t mind perpetually wet nostrils.
When they relax, they make two figure fours with their legs.
They never say, “nature is constantly surprising us.”
For they remember the porcine age.
They keep the entire planet in delicate balance.
When they are angry they throw something extremely light, like feathers, or gods.
They’re not sure there’s a big takeaway.
Their ancestors spread fragments of the seven wonders all over the world.
Over centuries they have carried them, in their bifurcated hooves.
Rocks make them feel tender.
They get high on dust motes.
The worst insult is to be told they have “pigeon hands.”
They are often the only ones at the light therapy station.
They never shorten ‘yours’ to ‘yrs.’
What they want is simple.
They have no vestigial organs.


after Major Jackson’s “You, Reader”

So often I think of the men
who tried midnightly to enter
my room or how tidelike
we crawled skyward to ground
the teetering bus, and so often too:
keys in doors, doors wide open, credit cards
on tables in public spaces. Should I be offended
that my phone doesn’t recognize my face
in the morning? Should I throw my clay body
at every tottering night prowler? How I will
the tree’s craw to magick an owl there—
our unblinking communion!—how it is
in my mind, always, but for that one
time. If it’s true that there is only one
notable death, and that is the pig farmer’s,
I’ll speak, yes, you know what’s coming. Already
I have debased myself: the skin of my belly
hangs loose as a sigh, so yes. I see
how this slop unfurls before me: a sea
of nutritious glop and I sing its praises.
I am a mother, after all. Tell me again,
how you ate what I would not, could not;
how your skin burned like mine and I shamed
you for it, buried you beneath an idea
of something delicious that would
finally satisfy me. Take me by handfuls
and lay me down—the whole pudding of me.
It matters not that you won’t eat me, it matters
that you don’t. It was you who made me, one rib
at a time, and me who made you: domestic
and domesticated, both unfit for the wild
life, spewing methane and wallowing
in the puddle we’ve homed.

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