We eat. We are eaten. Wonderful!
Always there must be the taste of pain:
Something ripped open, something torn apart
And ground between rough stones, something sliding
Down a dank passage into blackness, gnawed
By acid and enzymes with elfin names—
Ptyalin, Pepsin, Trypsin, Lipase, Amylase—
Then trundled down the bowels' coiled conveyer
Belt to squeeze out as a stinking sludge.
Always there must be the reek of death:
Something decapitated, felled by a hammer
Between the eyes, dart from an air-gun,
Bullet to the brain—something blasted
From the sky, pierced by an arrow, tracked
Bleeding through the snow—something jerked
Up by the roots, torn from its mother, hacked
Off at the thigh with leaves attached.
Something's life is poured into another's cup,
Leaving the drinker bloodstained, tainted
With the steam of rot. No wonder
I rejected what was gooshy, clotted,
Full of lumps. No wonder I spit up
In my high chair. I sensed, behind my grinding
Teeth and growling gut, worms chewing,
Germs' fanged mouths yawning to swallow me.
from Reading the Water, published by Northeastern University Press, © 1997 by Charles Harper Webb.