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Posts from the ‘Sean Sexton’ Category



Out of season calves
appear one day, indicating
things gone wrong in the

How they flesh out neglect, holes in fences,
unperceived shortcomings in one’s plans.
Yet there they are, robust,
sprightly creatures shimmering
in the morning

like new leaves; dear
to whom they’ve come
as breath itself, misbegotten
signs of what, we pray, shall ever keep
in this world.

                                by Sean Sexton



The light this hour
So little holds the sky,
enters our room—enough
for love’s secret toil

and aftermath, things
small as this light, overwhelmed
by a world it wakens. See
the moon’s nimble

gleaming over the treetops,
frog on each trunk climbing
through saffron to bed.

A single bird voices
the last dim clarity
before rising mists
untenure our dreams.

                                by Sean Sexton



I’m wearing my pants aint I?
My grandfather would say.

Never go around without a pocket knife
is what Joe Yates told us,
Or someday someone will beat the shit out of you!

This morning, I sent the boys out to feed the calves. They
Hesitated, drove back to me yelling, throw us your knife—
We need it to open the bags. Not a blade between them.

Now I’m the man
without his pocketknife.

                                                by Sean Sexton



                 “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
                                                                     Luke 24:5

What might have been a fallen star,
glittering in the distance
became the dreaded sight—
A heifer in trouble, calving.

But she was dead, still warm,
her uterus prolapsed: half its length
inside out, entwined with torn

a useless vision consigned
to heartache, awe and abandon
with all thought
of her.

But the calf
must still be inside.
How was he lodged,
what went wrong?

I tried to push in and find him;
but tides of flesh kept me out.
I cut across the tissues with my knife,
opened her, loosing a wash

of blood, removed
and set aside the mass,
reached in to

He must be out, I thought, rising
to walk in circles around her
searching clumps of grass for him—
But nothing.

I left,
drove toward cows in the distance,
noticed in the woods
a small, dark form,

soggy and disheveled,
nursing the knob of a tree,
sucking anything to connect
with this world.

I caught and bound and carried him
home and called on the phone
for someone to take him:
Do you want a red baby brahma bull?

Cousin Rob said he’d sworn off bottle-raising calves,
but a brahma bull—too much to resist.
Save him for me, he said,
I’ll be by.

In the pen, he sucked the boards, posts, climbed
through the shed, sucking things stored there;
sucked my hands, my pants, the gate as I tricked him
to escape.

Colostrum, I thought,
is out there in her.
He won’t be worth a shit without it,
The old timers say.

I couldn’t go there again—but I couldn’t not go.
so I found the blue bucket on a shelf,
washed a cup and empty milk jug and
in ten minutes,

udder by udder,
I’m stripping out a dead cow
in the full light of day,
wondering who I am.

It comes cold with every grasp, hissing into the cup.
Fingers tired, I stop— add it to the jug,
continue, hands sticky, aching, keeping on
until there’s no more.

Warmed on the stove and poured in the bucket,
a minute later I’m coaxing a nipple into his mouth,
little teeth cutting me as I hold his muzzle,
squeeze his jaw open and shut till the rhythm catches

and soon he’s enlivened, autonomous,
tail wagging, tongue working,
swallowing the elixir
of life.

                                                   by Sean Sexton