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Sow [Graduate ODU Poetry Prize Winner]

By Michael Alessi

  • It’s not the fists of steam that roll from the body
  • when the sow strung up on gambrels spills open.
  • It’s not her father stepping inside to cut away
  • what will be chitlins, the skin
  • folding over his shoulders like two wings.
  • It’s not the buckets of blood
  • her twin nephews lug to the barn
  • and pour into an earthen trough.
  • It’s not the black mantle of hair
  • that bobs on the surface of the scalding pan,
  • or the hook her uncle stirs the body with.
  • It’s not the way the zinc can lids
  • melt and curl from the heat
  • as the last dark hairs are scraped.
  • It’s not the sight of her brother leading
  • the animal to the clearing by a rope,
  • but that it lifts its head to sniff the pistol
  • at the pierce of the whistle
  • he has used to call her before.


Michael Alessi’s work has appeared in New Delta Review, where he won the 2013 Ryan R. Gibbs Short Fiction Contest, and is forthcoming in Nano Fiction and Mid-American Review. He lives in Chicago. Email him at michaelalessi87@gmail.com

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