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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 18, 2016.
About this Poem 

“‘Why Eat Why Kill’ is the first poem in a newly begun manuscript within which I consider cranes. They’ve meant so much to me: the songs and statures of deeper dirt time and dearer personal safety; they’ve meant so much to everyone, everywhere: loci of loyalty and devotion. I am delighted to bow—if awkwardly—towards my buoy birds for a time.”
—Abraham Smith

Why Eat Why Kill

how hunger boy
mercer must you
brain crane lay

over lap one
dream broom
person starved

down chaff
rain pencil
shaving ego 

peck of
pimpled flesh
on fire

eat burnt crane
eat burnt crane
eat burnt crane

who your gods then
while you wait
for the soupbird to unshade yr life 

in who the cleated teeth
of rain
in mist

in whom the fired
sibilant remnants
a passing

storm’s little
unsuccessful denials
of fire

inside every song
another song
fruit teaches this

white sun flesh
the seed at the breast
thread wrestled button the


can’t stack a day’s
strength a night’s
rest at the unravel hotel

truly hungry fools
dream too but
not of confluences

not of gardenias
not of pedigrees 
not the stony feats of insomniac sentinels

by the
killing maze

milk like junk wool
milk like gauze
milk like hesitancy

might as well
eat your own cane
god and crawl

Copyright © 2016 by Abraham Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 18, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Abraham Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 18, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Abraham Smith

Abraham Smith

Abraham Smith is the author of Hank (Action Books, 2010) and Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer (Action Books, 2014). He teaches at University of Alabama and shares his time between Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Ladysmith, Wisconsin.

by this poet


in his wide wide palm the reigns loose as a foundering
pulse the sky gone
the color of the dying too
and the night kneels
on the throat of the morning
the turkey is clocking and
the night is a preservationist
the morning is a revisionist and
the child is erasing her skin

secret soil coital
the dove there
sounds blonde as
whipped oil
please appeal to
wimpling skies
journeying trees
there is but one fence
bone true and 
one blockhead dog
to rend
the smarts
of trees
at journey's end
like summer melon
hit by a part
from a washing machine

yes seeds but no
seeds to bean
the oils from

I run olive
oil all in my glasses

make it so I only see in sleep

wedge of bread
masks the crow
a clown you know
fat white nose

pecked once
and dropped
from yonder pine

your smashing legs

god your