Statement of Record

Four Poems by Margo Taft Stever

F

LITANY OF THE SOW

Every year, American factory farmers trap sows in cramped crates;
they crush ten million piglets under the weight of their own bodies.

Farmers drug her to birth more piglets

in a cage so small, they cannot move.

Her piglets cry out in pain;

                                         bones dig in her skin.

X

She has so many children, she doesn’t know

what to do.  It doesn’t matter,

                                         nothing she can do.

X

Fourteen piglets suckle at her teats;

She shifts her body to keep from losing

limbs and hears their moans,

                                          bones tear in her skin.

X

This little piggy went to market; this little

piggy cried, wee, wee, wee—

                            nothing we can do.

X

Under her weight, her great broken heart,

sigh of last breaths, the shudders.

Bones of her own, she can barely move;

                                         bones slash into her skin.

X

There is an old woman who lives in a shoe, so many

babies, nothing she can do.

                                         she lives in a shoe.

X

They bind her with steel. She cries out.

Fourteen piglets suckle at her teats.

She cannot move

                                          to comfort them.

X

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home.

This little piggy—bones dig in

                                         her great broken heart.

 

 

LOCKED WARD

X

At McLean, faces of those
who have outlived their welcome

quiver like struck deer who refuse
to die. Patients, straightjacketed,

slump in chairs; built-in ashtrays
prevent burning, but no one owns

matches. Keys jangle on the attendant’s
belt, Christmas bells in July—heat

strains his face, craggy, avuncular.
He unlocks clanking doors—keys

ring against his body. At the nursing
station, patients clock

the night, murmur prayers with the pill
pills line up, soldiers,

tiny vacation capsules, weaken,
smother her into vacant sleep.

Bars on windows framed in black
and keys mean nothing

to the girl who escapes somehow, leopard-
print PJs silhouetted in riotous light.

LOCKED WARD

X

Two Canada geese and three goslings

crib grass in a corner patch

triangulated by Redcoat Lane,

Tower Hill Road, and the reservoir.

X

The goslings nip green shoots

in their narrow constriction,

strangulated strip—downy

feathers fluttering in summer haze.

X

The geese hover over them, protecting

from menacing cars, blurring by

at breakneck speed, drivers cursing

out windows—pests, vermin.

 

They turn their radios up—Love,

O Careless Love. But at dawn no

cars, no noise, almost all people

sleeping, the parents bring

X

their goslings across the vacant

road to teach them how to swim.

LOCKED WARD

X

The snapping turtle digs

down between the young

farmer’s carrot rows

one wet night, hoping for

a place to lay,

X

but June brings drought.

The farmer finds his rows

disturbed, and the turtle’s

framed face sinks

down in the dry dirt,

X

only her eyes and nose

exposed, seemingly asleep.

His new deer fence has not

kept her out, and now the

farmer’s family gathers round,

wondering what to do.

X

The same turtle tried

to lay in his greenhouse

the year before but didn’t stay.

Next morning, the turtle was gone—

no trace of eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Margo Taft Stever’s book, CRACKED PIANO, will be published by CavanKerry Press in 2019. Her four poetry collections include The Lunatic Ball, 2015The Hudson Line, 2012; Frozen Spring, 2002; and Reading the Night Sky, 1996. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies including upstreet, BlackbirdSalamander; Poem-A-Day, The Academy of American Poets, Cincinnati ReviewPrairie Schooner, New England Review, Connecticut ReviewPoet LoreWest BranchSeattle Review, and No More Masks. She is the founder of the Hudson Valley Writers Center and the founding and current co-editor of Slapering Hol Press. For more information, please see www.margostever.com.

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