Pigs (see Swine); October Trees

Pigs (see Swine)

According to official Library of Congress rules,
one must classify children’s books about pigs
under “pigs” and adult books about pigs under
“swine”; the terms are not interchangeable.


On the books, the rules for subjects long assigned:
For children’s tales, use pigs; for grown-ups’, prefer swine.
How now, white sow, on which one will you dine?
Wilbur is “some pig”; Napoleon, some swine.

But there’s a book whose pigskin bindings shine
For youth and aged alike, in which the terms align,
Pigs and swine; and in its stories, sow supine,
Your litter’s better bacon in a poke done up with twine.

The Evangels spin a story from the silken ears of swine:
The swineherds eat their lunches by the mountain’s steep decline,
By the tombs, where wind’s perfumed with marjoram and thyme,
With the sweet smell of the cedars, the sweet reek of the swine;

And by the tombs, a bruised man roots for acorns, as benign
In his iron fetters as the Son of Man, the Vine,
Who withers branches, makes blood out of wine.
The shackled shouting man’s a temple with no shrine,

Or two thousand shrines, and every one maligned
By other gods, other incarnations, so this text opines:
Gods unclean as hordes of hogs, scores of swine,
Hooves divided, eyes savage, tails serpentine.

O lardlings, your Lord cometh, and you know not his design.
He sails across still waters and his lips are caked with brine.
Piglets, he will not give this generation a sign,
Unless that sign be read in demons, in the bristling flesh of swine.

For swine, see pneuma, see daimon, see the soul unconfined.
See incarnation thistle-pink with hock and flank and rind.
See madman counsel madman, chapter, verse, and line.
See spirits seek for bodies, and see the spirits find.

See the book consign the flock, loin and heart and mind,
To a tumble through the salty sky, their transport undefined.
Over the cliff, swine see pigs, and pigs see swine—
Legion, yet one: porcine, insane, divine.

October Trees


I can no longer think of you in vague groves;
I can no longer think of you without proper names—

and not just tulip-poplar, one standing among many,
but this tulip-poplar, this windy one scouring my screen:

you, brokenfingered fire-eater, tallest-in-the-yard,
arrow of God or of something else, quick alchemist:

you will be called Goldreen, and you will outpace
the almanacs with your turnings, and if you fall too fast,

I can but watch. Only you can fathom the source
of your secret name, and only you can beat out the song

of harps hung from your light-strangled branches.
And the names of those who might’ve played them.

I must quit my day job. I have found another calling:
to expose the lie of the foreign tongue, the notion

of human understanding—that I should not listen
to bark or bray or cool flutter, that I should not dog-ear

the unpaged dictionaries waving in every trunk,
that I should not learn a dirge for the each of you,

rather than the all, for in the all is nothing
either of us can keep. Sawfallen, Splitlightning,

Allorange, Ovenflame, Slightring, Coldpenny,
Leatherlantern—how will I have time to sleep?