Three Poems – Eric Weil

Biting My Tongue

Henry Thoreau said eating meat
disagreed with his imagination,
then he saw a groundhog in his beanfield

and imagined rending it with his teeth.
So when my veggie quesadilla arrived
and my coworker said, “Where’s

the pork chop?” I pictured my teeth
at his throat. Then, I smiled. I did not say,
“Still on the pig, thanks to me.”

Through forty-five years I have heard
many self-protective jabs and answered
“Why?” as patiently as any parent

of a three-year-old. I envisioned saying,
“If you like chewing the greasy, charred
flesh of a dead animal that lived in a pen

the size of your bathtub, and whose
contributions to global warming
and food insecurity are well known,

bon appétit.” Thankful for choices,
I said, “If they bring me a pork chop,
I will happily give it to you, my friend.”

A Toast

I learned a man who’d persecuted me
Is dead. The crime, once old and stowed away,
Returned so fresh, it’s all that I can see:
His grinning face and bullet eyes, all day.
He was my boss, of course; the persecutors
Always are. What mutant protein or loss
Of chemical brain balance makes traitors
Of these men, turned against the human race?
There was a time I fantasized I’d cut
His throat and laugh with wonder when the blood
Ran red across his office floor, my doubt
Had grown so strong. Irrelevant now. What good
    Could come of gloating at his death? I think
    There must be some good, so I hoist this drink.

Labor Day

“I never killed anybody, but I often read
an obituary notice with great satisfaction.”  
— Clarence Darrow

Three men made working for them
a hell. Older, they began to die,

the youngest first, of stomach cancer.
I did not wince to contemplate

his pain. Then the middle one, alone,
unfound until the neighbors smelled him.

A surprise, that he could have
a heart attack. Now the third, grown

very old, has died, but I do not savor
his demise: Because some fellow sufferers

are also under clay, and I grow
nearer to our common fate, I fold down

the obits and raise my juice,
glad to start another working day.

Eric Weil lives in Raleigh, NC. He is glad to have survived a career in education and is now retired. Volunteerism is so much more pleasant than work! Journals ranging from American Scholar to Poetry, from Dead Mule to Sow’s Ear, and from Main Street Rag to Silk Road have published his poems. New poems are forthcoming in Kakalak 2022North Carolina Literary Review (online), and Prime Number. He has three chapbooks:  A Horse at the HirshhornReturning from Mars, and Ten Years In. He’s willing to trade titles with other poets:  Also a playwright, Eric has had one-act plays on stages in Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, Arizona, and Minnesota, as well as in North Carolina. He likes to hike with his wife of 43 years, and he’s happy that his grandkids are still young enough to enjoy playing at Grandma & Grandpa’s house.

Banner Art: Bright Urban Graveyard/ Savage Light a visual poem by Robert Frede Kenter. Twitter: @frede_kenter

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