Published on Academy of American Poets (

Petting Zoo

We pay to enter the dirty
pen. We buy small bags of feed
to feed the well-fed animals. We are
guests in their home, our feet
on their sawdust floor. We pretend
not to notice the stench. Theirs
is a predictable life. Better,
I guess, than the slaughter,
is the many-handed god. Me?
I’m going to leave here, eat
a body that was once untouched,
and fed, then gutted and delivered
to my table. Afterwards, I’ll wash
off what of this I can. If I dream
it will be of the smallest goat,
who despite her job, flinched
from most of the hands. Though
she let me touch her, she would not
eat from my palm. In my dream,
she’ll die of old age
and not boredom.


Copyright © 2019 by Nicole Homer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“In the fall, I visited a farm, the kind that sells pumpkins in September and evergreen trees in November. We were there to pick pre-picked pumpkins and enjoy the hayride, but there was a petting pen with goats, lambs, and assorted fowl. They were just one more seasonal attraction. They were so bored of the children who chased them and the apologetic adults attached to those children who offered feed—sold separately from admission—as amends. I haven’t stopped thinking about the goat.”
—Nicole Homer


Nicole Homer

Nicole Homer is the author of Pecking Order (Write Bloody Publishing, 2017).

Date Published: 2019-02-28

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