In J.C. Larson’s Pasture

When Daddy kicked the cow, long dead by now,
I watched its belly jiggle, come to life.
I watched it breathe again and asked him how
that this was possible—for she was rife
with death and stench. She settled down a bit.
The hounds began to bay like they had treed
a coon which we’d been hunting for, light lit
and focused on the carcass where the need
to understand it overtook my mind.
No way that Daddy’d tell, explain the rise
and fall of genesis. Green blow flies lined
her tail, white mounds of maggots squirmed, the size
of anthills, how grossly life could spring
abundantly, erratically, within—
this fear and wonderment had made me cling
to Daddy’s belt, the eyeless beast sellin’
resurrection just like poor Lazarus.
But Jesus was a possum playing hard,
Mother Mary, Joseph, Peter, Paulus,
slick slipping out the anus, slicked with lard
but green as spectres as the hounds took off
to chase them all to tree. I tried to get
a grasp on all that I had seen, my cough
and bile inconsequential. Daddy let
me kick her too, but she had died again.
Her empty guts relaxed and groaned; my chest
let go and still her tongueless mouth and chin
were quivering full of the words the best
choir ever sang. I waited for a sign
the worms were finished moving for the night.
The dogs treed all that holy hoard, their fine
and shiny needled teeth; and with the light
of Daddy’s carbide gas lit light imposed
upon the trunk of one persimmon tree,
they grinned at me, and that’s where I supposed
that charlatans and saviors, came to be.





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Charles (Charlie) Southerland lives on his farm in North-Central Arkansas where he bales hay, mills lumber, hunts and fishes. When he has time, he writes poetry on just about every subject. He is published in Trinacria, The Rotary Dial, First Things, The Road Not Taken and other journals. He has been nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize and is a finalist in the 2015 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Contest. He likes to write sonnets, villanelles and sapphics.