Two Poems | Michael Bazzett | Granta

Two Poems

Michael Bazzett


In those days, the only mode of hunting
was to call animals by name. The air was so clean
people had almost no skin.
The limbs of children
were plump and nearly translucent,
resembling spring rolls.
They slept piled among rabbits,
who took care to mind their nails and teeth.
There was no such thing
as a rusted blade. It was a commonplace
to enter the woods
with meat, lay it on the ground, then
wait for what might come.
This was a way to learn hunger.
And these were not mere scraps
but something like a full
shoulder, bone in, marrow
blooming burgundy where the saw whirred through.
When the flies came to cover it,
it seethed like chain-mail
come to life. O my love, what more can I tell you
of those days? What do I have to give
but blunt approximations?
I fear you may never read these
lines as love, as an imploring beyond metaphor
to feel what seizes in our chests
not as fingers tensing into fist
but as something I could
simply slip into your hands, my heart,
wet and shining, in a white ceramic bowl.






Watching baby alligators
and their white needle teeth
go to town on the bloated corpse
of an indeterminate mammal
is not my favorite way to begin
a Tuesday. At least I have coffee.

I’ll take a walk on the beach, I said,
not planning on seeing a seething
mass of reptiles swarm the hulk
of what was once a domestic pet
and tug at its remarkably rubbery
flesh then jerk their heads back quick
as if tossing back a shot of low-grade
mezcal, because alligators cannot chew.

Watching them scuttle and work
their teeth in a sideways sawing motion
that might be employed by an inebriated
man going after a cheap cut of meat
is a reminder that successful evolutionary
design does not have to be beautiful.

No, it can also be about gnarled things
peeled like bark from the rutted tree
of ancient hunger then loosed to shred
a body you might have called good boy
in a foolish lilting voice as you scratched
behind his ears, snugged him
close, and he shut his eyes in bliss.


Image © Todd Huffmann

Michael Bazzett

Michael Bazzett is the author of four collections of poetry. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Threepenny Review, The Sun, The Nation, and Poetry Ireland. His verse translation of the Mayan creation epic, The Popol Vuh (Milkweed, 2018), was long-listed for the National Translation Award and named one of the best books of poetry in 2018 by the New York Times.

More about the author →