Fall 1979 • Vol. I No. 4 Poetry |

The Ox in Autumn

The ox I love stands in depleted gold, The piles of leaves like droppings from his body, Only the hangings of blood left in the oak leaves, All else, the great final defecation. You may have your own cloacal image, But all of us can admit when the scene Goes it goes, and something like the dark ox Remains—the stark, peering head uplifted. I do not mean to accuse the ox or us Of eating the glorious, framed, golden world Like vandals munching paintings in a hall, The gold-leaf flaking on neck and shoulders As if an art destroyed struck out at us—And yet the effect is about the same: A set of teeth rips through the rich texture, We the digesters with our visceral eyes. The ox like a figure on a cigar box Shows a fierce sense of his predicament: He is the twice, the thrice used conduit. I know for I have autumn in my entrails, A long process of maculate pictures, And so could be stamped forever standing—I must be taken by force and imaged: Save me the ox-head at the abatto

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece

Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More


Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.


With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.