Thursday, April 17, 2008

National Poetry Month: The Excrement Poem

Somehow I managed not to come across this one until last year:

The Excrement Poem
--Maxine Kumin

It is done by us all, as God disposes, from
the least cast of worm to must have been
in the case of the brontosaur, say, spoor
of considerable heft, something awesome.

We eat, we evacuate, survivors that we are.
I think these things each morning with shovel
and rake, drawing the risen brown buns
toward me, fresh from the horse oven, as it were,

or culling the alfalfa-green ones, expelled
in a state of ooze, through the sawdust bed
to take a serviceable form, as putty does,
so as to lift out entire from the stall.

And wheeling to it, storming up the slope,
I think of the angle of repose the manure
pile assumes, how sparrows come to pick
the redelivered grain, how inky-cap

coprinus mushrooms spring up in a downpour.
I think of what drops from us and must then
be moved to make way for the next and next.
However much we stain the world, spatter

it with our leavings, make stenches, defile
the great formal oceans with what leaks down,
trundling off today’s last barrowful,
I honor shit for saying: We go on.


Brave Sir Robin said...

That one would be popular with your students!

Bitty said...

Surprisingly, not so much. I offered it as a writing option (we never write about the poems we discuss) last summer, and I only received perhaps two papers.

Intimidated, perhaps they were.

But it might make a nice (ha!) discussion poem next semester.