by Tara Burke
My dreams are trying to tell me things
about life on imagined farms, dying
in riverbeds, or living in plain sight
of prisoners and war vets. I remember them,
all the soil and slaughter, the pissy pink
snouts of pigs, the piles of decapitated
chicken heads, the draining water
collecting blood from slaughterhouses.
The dreams are open wounds, talking
heads. They squawk at my idealism.
They say nothing can fill me—not love, not
pig, not shit in this fat world of American
processed delicious meal, no matter how much
I stuff inside. Later, I stand on a woman’s porch
in the city. We flirt and talk of war.
There is a dream field behind the city
stacked houses: a mirage. The woman talks
of her distaste for war, but yearns to play
part in the sacrifice. The US Navy
trained her well. Just enough smarts
to be skeptical, just enough duty to serve.
I do not find big wars charming, but I make
new love like a war. Still, to me, she is a cool
clean cucumber vine not yet drenched in pesticide
and I have let her wrap vines around my hungry
heart, a promise of life without farm factory
or chemical. She too, is trying to feed me, this empty,
just-plowed corn-field ready for harvest. This empty
silo, this old barn door, oiled and open. This may
not last. Doors close, silos get filled full, an uncomfortable
comfort. Still, we talk of life we could grow
together, farms of pretty pigs and pleasure.
I’m always hungry. My dreams show blood
and soil soaked in every kind of war. I like
her wrapped around me. I like
what we’ve planted
beside the fenced-in mines.
About Tara Shea Burke
Tara Shea Burke earned her M.F.A. in poetry from Old Dominion University in 2012. She also holds a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies, and has traveled to South Africa and Senegal to work with non-profits and offer service to NGOs. She has served as poetry editor for Barely South Review, and is the current poetry editor for The Quotable. She teaches literature and writing at ODU and The Muse, and is also a yoga instructor. Burke has an essay in the forthcoming book Loving The L Word: The Full Series in Focus, and her poems are featured in The Quotable, Switched-on Gutenberg, Rougarou, and forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom. She placed 2nd in Split This Rock’s 2013 Poetry Contest, judged by Mark Doty.