after Carl Phillips

The best part,
how we make to
part the beast
from its self. 

Take the bull  
(whose head it’s got. 
Now, conjure you—
the offal, bovine throat,
a veiny tract meant
for an alfalfa pasture,
clover, sundry grasses
soon to cud; or 

a garden got at: trampled 
angel’s breath, marigold, 
            daisy, rose, chomped down,
            also, though, grown, only,
            it seems, to prune to mean 
            a human being 
what humans are—

and there: a tendril 
coils from your skull,
then petals split 
the temple, come 
to bloom. See, how 
now the bull face, 
stricken, blinks), 
finding a way, 
reeling, through new 
bewildering appetites.

Copyright © 2023 by Douglas Kearney. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 18, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.