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Hear This :: “Butcher Day” by Kami Westoff

The 2River View online publication of poetry, art, and theory, includes audio recordings for each of its featured poets. Each poet reads his or her own works, introducing themselves by name and title of poem. My general instinct when I find a site where an audio starts up immediately is to look for the X button to make it stop. There is no such option on The 2River View, and perturbed at first, I was grateful once I listened through “Butcher Day” by Kami Westhoff. This poem was a stunner for me. It is haunting enough in its shift between contextual imagery, but the audio recording takes all its content a step further for the reader’s experience. Westhoff’s reading aloud forced me to continue at a steady pace through the connections she makes, from the slaughter of a family cow, to the rape of her sister, to their innocence as children:

Today is butcher day. Clover drags her impossible tongue over the salt lick, slips it into one then the other nostril. Our dog, Blackie, burrows into a bone from last night’s roast, her teeth clunk low and wet until the marrow offers. . . 

. . .Today we are eight and twelve, and don’t yet know there is never enough time to be forgiven.

Her reading added to the emotional gravity of the poem, which by the end had gripped me so strongly, I was on the verge of tears. Like many of the poets in this issue, Westhoff has a second poem, which the recording went directly into. I had to hit the mute button on the computer to give myself “a moment” to let that poem resonate before moving on. Other poets in this issue include Bradley J. Fest, Kathryn Haemmerle, April Krivensky, Kristin LaFollette, Michael Lauchlan, Gloria Monaghan, Darren Morris, Sherry O’Keefe, Jacqueline Dee Parker, Sally Van Doren, Kami Westhoff.

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