In me a man busted to pieces sinks
—like shrapnel—clear-through to bone.
I pull out one piece at a time—
occasionally I use tweezers,
other times a backhoe,
but each time it hurts worse
than before, and It gets better
is the world’s biggest lie.
The second: The wounds heal quicker.

No. The deeper you go,
the more it hurts—marrow
oozing into blood, and
yesterday—swear to God—
I heard a man with leukemia
say, I’ve got bad blood. What do you
say to a man with bad blood?
There are things I hate
I don’t know I hate,

until they arrive—
rising from some chamber
hidden within me—my own blood
begging for air. I thought
I figured this out
. No.
Do it again, the morning
never says. Do it again. Do it again.
I hear it like a hog’s brain
hooks a bullet, but nobody

pays to see a hog slaughtered.
No one bellies up
to the trough and says,
I’d like to have known this hog.
People don’t talk that way,
and those who do soak
their perfectly-fine ribs
in a sauce more akin to syrup
than vinegar, and I can’t help but

pity those who fail to worship
a rack of ribs whose meat
barely hugs the bone, teeth
ripping gristle and ropy tendon—
an act of humility, of prayer,
each plate an offering
to our worst selves. My anger
has loved me for so long.
I try to let it go. Lord, do I pray.

 
Photo by It’sGreg

Kerry James Evans

KERRY JAMES EVANS is the author of Bangalore (Copper Canyon). He lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri.

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