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The 2River View 15.4 (Summer 2011)

Louis McKee

The Butchering

My father worked piggyback freights
out of Cross Brothers and a few times
a year he'd come home with a side
of beef, ugly, raw and bloody,

fell off a truck, he said,
and from all his years in the yard, I guess,
he learned how, and with a hack saw,
a cleaver, and a couple of the biggest

knives I ever saw, went to work
on the heavy carcass in the wash tubs
in the back of the basement.
He carried each heavy cut up to the kitchen

where my mother washed it again
and wrapped it in heavy paper, taped it tight,
then had me run one package at a time
to the neighbors. Steak tonight,

I told them, not sure what I was saying,
but they would smile, so I did too,
and I never put it together, the meat
my father was butchering and all

the wonderful cows we saw those times
he took me to the train yard, to Cross Brothers,
where I'd climbed up on the wooden fence
and we'd tried to guess their names.

Picturing It

Peaches was lying in bed
and too tired to fight it
when Jim used his red magic
marker to draw a fetus
on her distended belly,
and since they knew
what they wanted,
he gave it a remarkably
large penis, because,
he told her, there was no
doubt that the kid would
take after his old man.
She wouldn't shower after,
afraid it would wash off,
and in the bath, as awkward
and uncomfortable as it was,
she liked it because
she could see him floating
above the bubbles, could
touch him, his fingers,
his funny hair, even his
tattoo, the word Mom,
big, in a fat red heart.

Louis McKee has had poems recently in American Poetry Review, 5 A.M., Verse Wisconsin, and elsewhere. His books include Near Occasions of Sin (Cynic), Still Life (FootHills), and Marginalia (Adastra), a translations of monastic poems from the Old Irish. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. websitecontact