Sept/Oct 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 5 Poetry |

Late Treatise on Bovine Gestation

For as with the variety of garden roses, as with the panoply of copyrighted names and patterning and damask lacework we have chosen to massage into petal edges, grafting, snipping, and splicing genes like reels of silver nitrate film, our livestock’s clocks are manipulated. Artificially inseminated, some heifers calve in winter, now, so the calves’ tufted tails, sopping wet with afterbirth, freeze solid to pastures’ frozen grasses. Production’s byproduct, anachronism, this raw spiral is a cut above. So I ask: Who among you rides herd? Who will sever the first tail and in so doing free the child, tethered by life and by limb and by time-all-wrong to this cold dirt? Roses we call Knockout, East of Eden, and Wild Blue Yonder, now, and we know how the movie that begins with the long, slow pan of a projector room filled with film canisters tends to end, in dissolution, or if not dissolution, fire.

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Photo of JP Grasser
JP Grasser, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow, holds a PhD from the University of Utah. He lives in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and serves as an associate editor for 32 Poems.

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Longitudinal Study

By JP Grasser

For as with the variety of garden roses, as with the panoply of copyrighted names and patterning and damask lacework we have chosen to massage into petal edges, grafting, snipping, […]

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