The Meat of It

By Michael Bazzett

To make a good book you need what William
Faulkner called “the raw meat on the floor.”
So before I started in I got some ground beef
and dropped it on the hardwood with a Spat! 
It felt wrong. Like dropping a baby. But I did it
for art. When my son came home from school
he said, Why is there meat on the floor? I said,
Art. He nodded like maybe that made sense
and said, It’s kind of freaking me out. I know,
I said, me too. We all have to make sacrifices.
Is that blood leaking out or juice? he asked.
I’m not sure I’m one to make that distinction,
I said, mostly to avoid answering the question.
I didn’t tell him how strange it was to unwrap
the meat so carefully, the plastic peeling away
like a onesie on a warm day, and then just sort
of hurl it down at the hardwood with a Spat! 
Are we still going to eat it? he asked after a bit.
I’m not sure, I said. I think it depends upon
a lot of different factors, a lot of ins and outs.
Is this a writing thing? he asked, because you
have that weird look in your eye. I’m your
father, I said. I held you as a baby. I’d never
use a moment like this just to make a poem.


Michael Bazzett’s fifth book of poems, The Echo Chamber, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2021. His work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, The Threepenny Review, Image, The Sun and Ploughshares, and his verse translation of the Mayan creation epic, The Popol Vuh, (Milkweed, 2018) was named one of 2018’s ten best books of poetry by the NY Times. He lives in Minneapolis.

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