Drink the Water, Follow the Customs


Unbeknownst to intrepid youth

There was a slaughter going on

Right outside his front door.

Earlier the family had mentioned

Going into the city to buy

A sheep, so it was no surprise

When on was chained to the fence.

He stayed inside, the family

Turned phantom, so outside he went.

His eyes met with skin laying flat

On the grass; A small tub of chunky

Blood and ribs cracking in the wind.

No one in the family knew how,

So they called the one man who did;

In this village, everyone can do

Something, but not everything.

This man was the slaughterer.

He hung haunches on nails sticking out

Of the side of the house, their purpose

Once an illusion now made clear,

Flayed the hooves off the skin,

And cracked the neck to decapitate.

The youth never saw the kill,

But saw the fruits of their labor:

A vat of glowing innards,

Courage, sanguine, elation, sorrow,

All humors soaking in themselves.

The cleaning was anything but,

A messy affair that took two women,

Because that’s what women do,

I suppose, which lead to the cooking.

It wasn’t much more than boiling

All that could be boiled,

After stuffing the tracks and chutes

With stiffened blood, soft and moist,

Served in the pot where they once soaked.

Papers filled with politics and rumors

Of some day long since gone

Laid on the table to keep the cloth

From unwanted spots

That fill the room with the smell

Of yesterday’s meal.

Brandishing knives with hungry eyes,

Slicing pieces of sameness and

Stuffing them greedily into their mouths,

The youth looked on and at

The piece of what he only thought

He knew was through gestures


The mother pushed fat,

The brother disliked fat,

The sister chewed loudly

Before giving herself hiccups,

Then all left as quickly as

They came, leaving behind

Everything as it were;

The young man stood and left

For he felt that’s what

Drinking the water meant.

Composed 06/24/2012

Author’s note: I feel this one is pretty self-explanatory. Just a quick exercise is poetic narrative. I was not a fan of the kidneys I ate, but at a later date, I ate some guts fried in dough, and they were pretty bearable. Deep frying makes everything taste better, I suppose. “Drink the water, follow the customs” is also a traditional Mongolian phrase. If you didn’t guess, it bears a similar meaning to “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

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