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Blockbuster Poem III

This week's 'Tâte-à-tête' peers through candlelight at our animal instincts.

Shannon Stewart 13 Aug

Shannon Stewart's first book, The Canadian Girl (Nightwood, 1998) was a finalist for the Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award and Gerald Lampert Award.

"Tête-à-tête" is taken from her second book, Penny Dreadful (Signal Editions, 2009), shortlisted for the ReLit Poetry Award. She lives in Vancouver.

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Bristling conversation.

[Editor's Note: This is the third of 10 current Canadian 'blockbuster poems' running each Friday in The Tyee. Find out about the idea of the series and read the previous poems here.]


By Shannon Stewart

The hog
invited me to dinner.

I didn't mind the bristles
on his chinny-chin-chin.

And the truffles by candlelight
were a definite hit. I hadn't

known the porcine heart
was so similar to my own.

Is it true, I asked, that you eat your own kind?
(I had witnessed it with my own eyes,

but wanted to hear him answer.) His wet
snout trembled over the china rims, pink

and blind. You must think I am a monster!
And dabbed a tear with scented linen.

When he did not come back to bed that night
I knew something was wrong.

Tiptoeing down the cold halls I found
an empty room where his body hung

from a hook, like a gorged tick. How
he had climbed up there, and cut his own throat

I do not know. But the blood fell at my feet
like roses.

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