“Hog Heaven” by C.K. Williams

It stinks. It stinks and it stinks and it stinks and it stinks.
It stinks in the mansions and it stinks in the shacks and the carpeted offices,
in the beds and the classrooms and out in the fields where there’s no one.
It just stinks. Sniff and feel it come up: it’s like death coming up.
Take one foot, ignore it long enough, leave it on the ground long enough
because you’re afraid to stop, even to love, even to be loved
it’ll stink worse than you can imagine, as though the whole air was meat pressing your eyelids,
as though you’d been caught, hung up from the earth
and all the stinks of the fear drain down and your toes are the valves dripping
the giant stinks of the pain and the death and the radiance.
Old people stink, with their teeth and their hot rooms, and the kiss,
the age-kiss, the death-kiss, it comes like a wave and you want to fall down and be over.
And money stinks: the little threads that go through it like veins through an eye,
each stinks–if you hold it onto your lip it goes bad, it stinks like a vein going bad.
And Christ stank: he knew how the slaves would be stacked into the holds and he took it–
the stink of the vomit and shit and of somebody just rolling over and plunging in with his miserable seed.
And the seed stinks. And the fish carrying it upstream and the bird eating the fish
and you the bird’s egg, the dribbles of yolk, the cycle: the whole thing stinks.
The intellect stinks and the moral faculty, like things burning, like the cave under justice,
and the good quiet men, like oceans of tears squeezed into one handful, they stink,
and the whole consciousness, like something plugged up, stinks, like something cut off.
Life stinks and death stinks and god and your hand touching your face
and every breath, daring to turn, daring to come back from the stop: the turn stinks
and the last breath, the real one, the one where everyone troops into your bed
and piles on–oh, that one stinks best! It stays on your mouth
and who you kiss now knows life and knows death, knows how it would be to fume in a nostril
and the thousand desires that stink like the stars and the voice heard through the stars
and each time–milk sour, egg sour, sperm sour–each time–dirt, friend, father–
each time–mother, tree, breath–each time–breath and breath and breath–
each time the same stink, the amazement, the wonder to do this and it flares,
this, and it stinks, this: it stinks and it stinks and it stinks and it stinks.

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