Waste (extracts)


You think in the animal kingdom
there’s no waste
cause you’re nice and shun anthropomorphism but actually there’s a lot
I mean you’re nice and don’t want to imbue empty human qualities onto black eyes but actually there’s a lot

If you don’t believe me,
get out of the city
and look in the dirt,
dig a little bit with your claws,
stand in what you have dug,
and empty your pockets

The Learned Pig

You think there’s no waste in nature but dams

There’re more severe and damaging forms of waste
wherever meerkats live

In the Kalahari
the waste’s painful
they don’t waste resources
they waste their own genes,
out of jealousy,
they waste their own ways
and looks; their selves

They live in matriarchies
impossible to describe unsexistly
cause these moms are so mean
and only to their own daughters
who wanna be moms

The shunning of the fertile
is biologically so wasteful, but also mean
– I mean the shunning until you are dead –
You can see the hurt in the still and stiff
pose of the excommunicated female
who knows she’ll die of clanlessness
her black eyes darting dark and sharp in the heat
her cowered “praying” arms limp and matte
her fur by her ears scruffy and clumped
from the stress and from the pain
and it is all she can do to pivot
while her blind and pink young feet below her
are blind and pink

Her mother discovers them and brings them up
just after she’s roasted in the sun
then her mother has further daughters
and those daughters further daughters
How long can this go on

The Learned Pig

Actually it’s true
most animals eat everything up
Most leave only the inedible parts:
the bones and the teeth
sometimes gnawed on later
by smaller animals or animals
who have greater needs for their own teeth
or bones

Then the animals go to sleep
and rear their young,
and when it looks cute to us,
cutely, and virally,
and it’s very penetrating

The cutest things I’ve ever seen,
I realize, I’ve never seen
I realize I want to put a loris on a piano

I think animals are cute
in an ancient way



Image credit: Mike Richardson and Sarah Winch

The Learned Pig

Emily Toder

Emily Toder is the author of Science (Coconut Books, 2012) and the chapbooks No Land (Brave Men Press, forthcoming 2014), Brushes With (Tarpaulin Sky, 2010), and I Hear a Boat (Duets, 2010). Her second collection, Beachy Head, is due out from Coconut in spring 2014. A graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she also holds degrees in Literary Translation and Library Science. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.