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Posted in LITERATURE
30 Jun ’17

ONE NIGHT, ONE HUNDRED WAILS AGO BY STEPHANIE ROGERS AND ARIANA-SOPHIA KARTSONIS

“the snuffling good-nights of a hundred pigs among the new stars and long grass still warm from the sun and settling down to sleep.” — Thomas Pynchon

In One Hundred Wails or Less
The pigs cried out.  I wanted to press their snouts against me and coo.  You forbade it.  I was not to smell up the house. Inconsiderate, I sang too, plump and wallowing in the muck.  Truth be told, pigs know a thing. You wouldn’t think, but I was raised by those pigs, fattened and sent out to bargain.  They said:  aloof, sashay, contain, and I sat on my haunches and giggled.  So vulnerable, how could you resist?  My round cheeks pinked and I was spared.  Thankful I listened, smart pigs, let me tell you

In a Hundred Wails or Less
Give or take the pigs or how it was to grow big on grain laced with ill-intent, on lace made of bits of them: the pigs–pink and hairless save for wigs which they made from their last pet’s hide. I am no spider writing your best pig’s name in the spun-glass script of my hammocked-hexagon-God’s-eye-called-home. Your fingers the catcradle I hung my whole livelihood on. Once. Those days half-forgotten, and me: daughter of pigs, calling out first words aloof, sashay, contain until I could contain no further: (choose one) light   anger   words   tear

In One Hundred Wails or Less
the end begins. We pigs have spent all this time asleep, watching the trees. The leaves fall like commas; their dried-up edges crunch like grinded bones. Yes, we wanted to think we might have survived, aloof, our hairless bodies left baking in the sun. But we knew with the first frightened squeal, the men dragging us off one by one. If only we hadn’t been born with these eyes. Is this the end? Tell your God, your farmer, hello. Then take note of the mechanical sky, the sudden heat wave, such slashed open clouds

In One Hundred Wails or Less
Sure I have swallowed clouds climates, farmers, and yes, they’ve been kept in a pit of a stomach that hangs inside me like a canteen. My God has been peering out through the fringy blinds of the son-of-a-farmer’s eyes. It’s time to mend some birdhouses, Son. Time to till the field and yield some kind of harvest that we can–one way or other–choke down. What was grown last season was fed to pigs and the pigs write to say that they wish we wouldn’t bother. The trees write notes, the pigs sing

In One Hundred Wails or Less
there lies a city of the future dead. Look around at the splotched hides, fly-ridden, the rape rack cluttered. Ask me how long we’ve lived, and I’ll show you my body, nicked, caged, and then the other bodies: charred, seasoned, splayed across a grill. Aren’t they tender there in the coal-light? Sometimes, our gates would shake, a man’s boot pummeled the pen, prodded our backsides with a stick. I remember. I was raised there, shackled and tagged, taught the rules of the slaughter. You might not know, but we’re a smart bunch. We listen

In One Hundred Wails or Less
Speak to me not of burdensome eyes. Blind, mud-wallowed and in light of these sundry veils–let’s call them your plans for me, Butcher. You were raised in a city that toasts its town criers, a city that forgets the very pigs that raised it so fat and bustling, so many-lighted windows and skyscrapers diminish us and in light of these hundred walls you’ve erected, tell me something true and please, don’t tell me you weren’t there, you with your nectarine lips, us with our bacon bosoms and cloven hooves. Say what you will

In One Hundred Wails or Less
I decapitated all the honeysuckle blossoms from the vine that lurks outside your sty. I couldn’t help it, Pig. I wanted that view: a stripped naked body clinging to the fence, the ground lit like a skyline, all the yellow-pink petals, their hanging tongues. I know you were there, watching, blood-spattered, snout pushed between the wood-slats. Did you think because I raised you I didn’t know we’re not the same? Sure you were spared, at first, while we waited for your chest to grow, your thighs to fatten. So defenseless, how could we resist?

In One Hundred Wails or Less
Tell that miserable son-of-a-farmer then go on, tell yourself too: this is no kind of slaughterhouse fairytale that works with an interchangeable prince. The pie-eyed pigs look through us. Still, I can’t tell a pig from a pig’s apprentice and I can’t tell you from the prince who’s really just the son-of-a-farmer with a mouth full of sad gladiolas and broken colored-glass. I can’t tell you from the sawdust from which you were formed or the chicken-scratched dirt we pushed ourselves into. So pretty you are after weeping. So pretty you are, after all.

In One Hundred Wails Or Less
your heart resides where the human heart lies. Your kidneys, lungs: lain out like a map of the farmer’s body. When each of our kind dies, don’t we look the same? all gutted, rotting flesh nurturing the dirt-clods where once we played, you as piglet, and me, knees scuffed as a child in that field? But humans, we bury our dead, prep and prod their flesh so we might say goodbye. For you, I’ll peel the sewn lids back for your next departed farmer. I’ll tell him, Look, even chained, the piglets sleep together.

In the Night of a Hundred Wails
Picture porch steps, plus us there, sprawled and gelatinous, ajiggle with our own riddles of late. One pig toying with a monocle, another dreaming the son-of-a-farmer again, the remembered tender to his touch. New stars above, a good night for slumber. Packed in a stunning metal box where only the squeal escapes. Those pigs: thought they’d seen their god. Those pigs: so like us. Their god: edgy. In light of these sundry veils, the pigs doubted. In a night of a hundred walls he left. In one hundred wails or less, they grieved.

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BIO

Stephanie Rogers completed her Master’s in English and Comparative Literature in 2005 from the University of Cincinnati, and in 2007, she received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets (2009 and 2006), Another Chicago Magazine, Southern Review, Pleiades, Cream City Review, Grist: A Journal for Writers, The Pinch, Third Coast, and Madison Review, among others. In 2008, she and Amber Leab co-founded the feminist film review website Bitch Flicks, and her feminist commentary has also appeared at Ms. Magazine, Shakesville, I Will Not Diet, The Opinioness of the World, Not Another Wave, and The Good Men Project. She lives in a very tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn.

Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis completed a Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati in 2009. While there, she published her first book, Intaglio, won The Academy of American Poets Prize and met the inimitable Stephanie Rogers. She currently lives in Powell, Ohio and is an associate professor at Columbus College of Art and Design.

Literary Editor:John Branscum

International Literary Editor: Yi Yizzy Yu