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An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
Table Of Contents
Acknowledgments & Links



George Venn

Fifty years of your butchering art are here, Grandfather. I hear the crash of your falling ax into alder, the whisk of your keen knife on the blue steel while lambs and wethers bleat in the barn. They knew your one quick stroke across their throats would make their ends the best you could create. I still don't like the blood, Grandfather, but I know now the need for meat. "Nothing should suffer," you said, and sought out old dying queens in hives and pinched their heads. Mensik's calf-- you told us not to watch; bad dreams would come, you said, so we walked out and watched you anyway through a crack in the wall--one deadly swing, no more-- from the spiking maul buckled the calf instantly to its knees on the hay. We knew your power then, and ran away. And now this God, Grandfather, this God whose songs you sang, whose church your worship built, whose book you read, whose name you never said in vain-- He's got you here in His shepherd's barn. Oh, he's a shoddy butcher, Grandfather. He's making you suffer his rusty dull deathknife for years, crippling your legs, then cutting off you speech to tremble, then tying you up in a manured bed. He won't bring you down with grace or skill or swift humane strike of steel. Day after day, you sit in His hallway in your wheelchair and nurses walk by like angels and shout half your name. Ah, this God of yours, Grandfather, this God has not learned even the most simple lesson from the country of your hands. You should have taught him how to hone His knife, that the slaughtering of rams is the work of those brave enough to love a fast deft end.

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