Spring 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 1999 |

They Feed They Lion

Out of burlap sacks, out of bearing butter, Out of black bean and wet slate bread, Out of the acids of rage, the candor of tar, Out of creosote, gasoline, drive shafts, wooden dollies, They Lion grow.     Out of the gray hills Of industrial barns, out of rain, out of bus ride, West Virginia to Kiss My Ass, out of buried aunties, Mothers hardening like pounded stumps, out of stumps,Out of the bones' need to sharpen and the muscles' to stretch, They Lion grow.     Earth is eating trees, fence posts, Gutted cars, earth is calling in her little ones, "Come home, Come home!" From pig balls, From the ferocity of pig driven to holiness, From the furred ear and the full jowl come The repose of the hung belly, from the purpose They Lion grow.     From the sweet glues of the trotters Come the sweet kinks of the fist, from the full flower Of the hams the thorax of caves, From "Bow Down" come "Rise Up," Come they Lion from the reeds of shovels, The grained arm that pulls

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Philip Levine (1928-2015) won the National Book Award in 1991 with What Work Is; in 1995, the Pulitzer with The Simple Truth. His final poetry collection, The Last Shift (Alfred A. Knopf), as well as a collection of essays and other writings, My Lost Poets: A Life in Poetry (Alfred A. Knopf), were published posthumously in 2016. Levine was the poet laureate of the United States from 2011-2012.

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