In Back of the Hog Parlor

by J. Matthew Boyleston

the small pond of pig scum hosed from cement pens
slowly swallowed my grandfather’s prize heifer.

I was ten and waded out with him into the slop
bearing a brace of 2x4s to wedge beneath her belly

and lift her from the sucking mud.
She brayed like to wake the dead, fecklessly,

with instinctual fear, no one could have bred out of her,
flailing the filth like a terrified child caught in the winter covers.

We worked on her until our light was gone–useless–all of it.
My grandfather said shit and shot her twice in the head.


About the Author

J. Matthew Boyleston is an Interim Associate Dean and Chair of the Department of English at Houston Baptist University. He holds a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston and a received an M.F.A. from the University of South Carolina. He has taught at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania and at the Malahide Language School in Dublin, Ireland. His poems and essays have appeared widely in such journals as Confrontation, the Spoon River Poetry Review, Blackwell’s Companion to Creative Writing and Puerto del Sol. His manuscript, Viewed from the Keel of a Canoe, was a finalist for the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry,  the Melissa Lantis Gregory Poetry Prize and a semi-finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award.