National Poetry Month April 18, 2020
Jessica Barksdale Inclan
HOW TO ROAST A PELICAN
If you can catch one,
you must first kill it.
You may stop
out of necessity
or belief system.
But if you’re hungry,
if you feel the flesh on your teeth,
wring its neck.
I can’t tell you how.
I know only pull.
Worse verbs follow:
Slit. Empty. Chop.
It’s like Thanksgiving,
your regularly scheduled program:
dead bird flesh on a kitchen counter.
If times are as difficult as they must be,
build a fire. Cook the bird
without burning the skin.
Do not tempt the fire with what is yours,
what you’ve worked so hard for.
Never mind the bird
and all the time it took to live
into the body you need
Watch the fire. See
1. What inspired you to write this poem?
I am a vegetarian, and I was thinking about all the very odd creatures humans eat, and yet, modern humans don’t think about how that creature arrived at the table. It’s a very odd disconnect, so I thought I’d try to write about it.
2. What do you like about this poem?
I love a good process. Here, I suppose, are instructions, though I’m pretty sure it would be a turn off. The anti-recipe.
3. What would you change about this poem?
Maybe I would take out “regularly scheduled program,” though I was trying to convey the habituation of flesh-eating in our culture. It’s part of pretty much every cultural celebration I can thin of (ham, Easter; turkey, Thanksgiving; Christmas goose, etc).
4. Where, when, and how often do you write?
I write every day, wherever I am. Sometimes for 1 minute. Sometimes for hours, if I am lucky.
5. What poetry books are you reading right now?
I just got a copy of “Many Small Fires” by Charlotte Pence.