sam sax
sic transit gloria mundi

my grandfather castrated pigs as a child

he tells me this casual as bread  

when i bring up the book i’m writing  


some thirty odd years of talking   

and this is the first that information raises its head

and shakes the mud from it


his father, i learn, was a farmer outside

baltimore. summers he’d be tasked with slicing

into piglets how one de-pits an avocado—


excising the sweet meats, seizing

their means of reproduction


how many pigs did you castrate, grandpa?    

                                                              just a handful

and i picture hands the size of pastures

filled with castrato pigs singing opera oddly

                      wagner probably


my grandfather wears shirts with buttons,

is freudian by training, obsessed with the germans

their brutalist art


i can hardly imagine him scolding a dog—


how is it we are always where we’ve been

even when unaware of it?


one moment you’re drinking a cheap beer

in a velour jump suit and the next

you’re descendent of jewish pig farmers


what might i learn if i were to write

this book on an entirely different subject:

antique clock repair, the sex lives

of astronomers, joy


Found In Volume 52, No. 03
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  • sam sax
sam sax
About the Author

sam sax is the author Madness, winner of The National Poetry Series and "Bury It" winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets.