Spring 1987, Volume 4.1
Poetry

VICTORIA McCABE

The Belly Thinks of Itself as Guts

Even when cramped in ache or bile,
Even when it romps beneath silk or belt,
Even languorous, bare and laughing

The belly grinds away at its stash of fury,
Its job of reduction, its steamy vats
Obscured beneath dimples and linen.

The intricate system of dissolution
Chews pity to rubble, it swallows
Regret-its appetite like tumors.

This gullet plots a 2nd factory in the head,
Another cavity of viscous rebellion,
Terrible teeth and concentration.

-Here the blind dog squats
Over his stripped bone, here's
The mechanical, the barbarous.

It's a silo of bad grain, locked
And foaming. The grinning kommandant
Of slime. The labor camp of the heart.

Grief. The Arm's Song

0 I'll hold some nothing now
With crooked elbows
And taut fingers
The skin of my hands wrinkled
Like an old grandmother

O I'll hold some nothing now
Inmorning zero
And afternoon sun
Night's dropped temperature
Like a hospital alarm

O I'll hold some nothing now
In grim pantomime
And slick scat away
The motion of air

O I'll hold some nothing now
Nothing now
Nothing now
O I'll hold this nothing now
Like baskets of winter sleep

Targets Seeking Out the Projectiles

They emerge, blinking from the rosy tufts
of innocence, the curative pause
thrown like a blanket. Now, there is weather,
mildly sarcastic, mauling the sky,
there is burning in air, something threading
each circle of vision, mapping rivers
of webs in violet and crimson, something
hurls like a ~on, aimed with precision.

Wide now, intense, they search the landscape
of pain, bowing like lap dogs, flashing
the seduction of a victim who trades
on loss-Even as they lurch from steamy
mirrors they delight m their vocation:
soft orbs, the bodys liars, glad targets.

Bedtime

The fairies and rhymes are falling from her mouth
She has whizzed me into the striped pajamas
And given me warm milk, the bear and the crooked lamb
Positioned beside us. Now she urges our chair forward
And throws it back again and again as she reads
Of the rabbits who became a king's pie. Now
It's the sign of the cross, her forehead complaining
As she leans over the thin bars to straighten
My blue blankets. Soon I will hear her moving
In silence through the rooms, I will hear her breathing,
Turning pages and phoning. My animals are dozing.
I lie and think in the dark here of my power
This time, we'll let it be, I say to Lammy and Arthur,
We know how she comes in the night with a softer brow.

Rat Terrier in Old Age

Ooobear, 1964-1981

He goes about the farm, oblivious
To nearly everything, his face gone gray,
The ears worn down to skin-flies sticking there
As if dazed in mid-summer humidity.

He moves resolutely through the yard,
Wagging, stopping at a mudhole to drink,
Busy, serious lapping, then looks up,
Away, at nothing listens a moment,

And drinks. He noses out, in the hoglot,
A dead baby pig, drags it to the shed,
Then rests, eyes half closed, the flies at his face
Murmuring. Perhaps he recalls the great

Rat migrations of his youth, how they moved
Like a brown sea across the country roads,
How he shook them breaking the terrible necks,
And tossed them aside, quivering. And how

The boys cheered him on, their voices rising
Like a thick gas, cluttering the dusk
As they burned the carcasses, praising his bite,
The flames stinking, leaping, the whole farm

Ablaze with the energy of killing.