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Philip Levine: Animals Are Passing From Our Lives

It’s wonderful how I jog
on four honed-down ivory toes
my massive buttocks slipping
like oiled parts with each light step.

I’m to market. I can smell
the sour, grooved block, I can smell
the blade that opens the hole
and the pudgy white fingers

that shake out the intestines
like a hankie. In my dreams
the snouts drool on the marble,
suffering children, suffering flies,

suffering the consumers
who won’t meet their steady eyes
for fear they could see. The boy
who drives me along believes

that any moment I’ll fall
on my side and drum my toes
like a typewriter or squeal
and shit like a new housewife

discovering television,
or that I’ll turn like a beast
cleverly to hook his teeth
with my teeth. No. Not this pig.

Reprinted from the Internet Poetry Archive sponsored by the University of North Carolina Press. For educational use only.



Philip Levine (1928 – 2015) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet best known for his poems about working-class Detroit.

2 comments on “Philip Levine: Animals Are Passing From Our Lives

  1. ruth clark
    September 29, 2016

    At least this wonderful hog had his or her day, like the pig I remember hanging out by the front fence on my grandfather’s farm so long ago. He liked his back scratched and had time to develop a personality. Factory farming is an abomination. Both Gene and I, whose grandparents also had a farm, gave up eating pork more than 20 years ago. I wonder how many people allow themselves the recognition that they, too, are animals who are just a little different than the ones they allow to be imprisoned, brutalized and served on a plate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. charlie.brice@gmail.com
    September 28, 2016

    Spectacular!! Thanks for posting.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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