Matthew Tuckner

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Matthew Tuckner

Failed Breakup Poem with a Pig

I don’t even know where to begin
so I’ll just begin with the facts.
Pigs can’t look up at the sky.
It has something to do with how their skull
clinches to the spine, but it’s true,
they haven’t gathered any appreciation
for it, evolution has pinned
their snouts to the ground to sus
out any stray cabbage or tuber
hidden in the mud. I just keep breaking
you said when your fist
met the drywall just beyond
my eyeline, when the golden delicious
you lobbed scuttled past my ear
and shattered the lightbulb into light.
I wouldn’t say I loved you then, but I still felt
the soft moan of its ending,
the meat sluiced of its bone,
an apple still lodged in the jaw of the animal
the skull used to be. Of course,
if one was so inclined, one could
simply enter the pen, roll the pig
onto its back, and there the sky
would be, everything as it always was,
sun bisected by tree branch,
cloud shaped like a fist, Venus
visible only when human
industry slows to a rate that allows
for clarity. And, of course, you could
lift the pig, if your arms
were strong enough, if you could
tolerate the stench to point out
the shapes the stars seldom gather
the energy to make of themselves.
But first you’d have to learn how to speak
to the pig. Not just a subtle, pointed
grunt, but true communication, the word
for up, for down, what stars are,
why the big orange orb, nightly, cedes
its real estate to a rock, how the word
over got stuck in the body of plover,
what a word is. And that would only
be the beginning, soon the pig would start
asking about love, forms of love that have always
felt foreign, why the trough is only filled
once a day with mealy soy that catches in
the throat, what the squeals coming
from the dark center of the barn stand for,
why the pig has found itself penned in
to begin with, what year is it? are you
my mother? my father?
the pig will want
to know, please put me down, the pig will
snort as you wrangle its neck upward to see
what you’ve always seen, all of which
is another way of saying that I don’t know
how to end this.

Matthew Tuckner reads “Failed Breakup Poem with a Pig”

Matthew Tuckner is a writer from New York. He is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at NYU where he is Poetry Editor of Washington Square Review and teaches in the Undergraduate Writing Program. He is the recipient of a University Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and was a finalist for the inaugural Prufer Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 32 Poems, Colorado Review, Pleiades, The Missouri Review, Bennington Review, Bat City Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Poetry Northwest, and Sixth Finch, among others.