Clade Song 2

Little Pig
That’s right, Little Pig,
you’re allowed to do anything you want.
That’s right, Little Pig.
You’re allowed.
Whatever you like, Little Pig,
you can do it today
while the sun is up,
while the cedar chips are warm,
while there are fresh grain pellets in your food dish.
It’s time to choose from all the many things
you like to do, which one to do
first, which one to do second.
The day has begun for you,
Little Pig.  It is a sunny day today,
indoors, but near the window—
Ring that little bell with your nose, Little Pig!
There’s a bell there, and it’s hanging down like that
so that you can ring it!  Ring, ring, ring! It’s time
for the world to know! There’s a joyful noise
in the air, Little Pig, and you’re
making it, you’re streaming it through the air
like a beautiful red ribbon!  
Those are some nice green leaves you’ve got,
Little Pig! Those are some nice green leaves
you’ve got there. Those green leaves have nice
curly edges; it’s special to eat
leaves like that, Little Pig, those leaves with
a ruffle around the edge, thick green leaves, crisp
and wet, you look so happy
like you know
how special it is. I bet those are some
good-tasting leaves, Little Pig.
Sometimes it’s nice to chew on cardboard,
Little Pig.  A nice tube of cardboard, or the edges
of an oatmeal drum. It’s nice if somebody
opens up both ends of the drum so you can
run through it, or nibble on the edges of the drum,
a tentative nibble before you
commit yourself to a whole-hearted
chewing, full absorption with your
industry of teeth, and your eyes just
looking out either side of your head like that,
just staring out not really at anything.  
You can chew from inside the drum,
or from the outside, from
wherever you so happen
to be situated, Little Pig, to be able to chew
right from where you are is a nice
convenience these days.
Someone could build you a house
of soft pine wood, Little Pig.  Because your teeth
are always growing
and somebody’s got to keep them
manageable, Little Pig, they need to fit
in your own mouth and not
hurt you, your own teeth, Little Pig,
like a miniature monster
terrorizing you from inside your own
mouth.  You could chew on the soft pine
of your house or on some cardboard tubes
or a little bit on your salt lick
if you can stand the taste for very long.
Chewing on newspaper isn’t as fun.  Too
inky and dirty, who wants to eat
all that dirt and all those
words.  It’s enough to make a Little Pig
sick with all that ink and horrible
meaning.  You’d like to think
nobody aspires to keep
up-to-the-moment on the most
depraved human behavior, nobody
enjoys gawking at the latest inconceivable and
gruesome murder, nobody’s a
voyeur in that way
of total indecency and complete disregard for other
living things. Shredded office paper is okay
but not as satisfying, pre-shredded like that,
in that prefabricated way.  We all know
the teeth need to do their own
shredding, their own tearing
to wear themselves down—
Somebody could build your house
with both ends open
so you can run through your house
as free as a bird sweeping through the rafters,
as free as a prairie dog running through
short subterranean tunnels that open
onto dry, waving grasses, as free as
(slowed down in passing frames) a snake
molting from its old skin, emerging in renewed
colors, then living, molting
again, it’s like a new
house every time you return!
And somebody could fit your house
with a jumping block jutting
perpendicularly from the outside wall,
you could run out one side
of the house and loop
around, leaping over the block before you
run back in the other side—
Perpetual joy is in that loop, Little Pig!  
And in the leap, pure exhilaration
punctuating the joy, can it get
any better?  Can we ask for more than that?
It’s nice to see you so early this morning, Little Pig,
with your soft nose peeking in from the
running track doorway!
I see you’ve already
been exploring, maybe sniffing
with your soft nose in distant
corners of your pig environment.  
It is good and wise to navigate one’s world
with one’s nose, as the dawn breaks
and the smells too crack open—  
Did you find a fragrant surprise
fit for such a soft and delicate
muzzle?  Did you find a wisp of scent,
fragile, delightful, a hint, a barely detectable
joy, a pleasure that you uncovered with your
devotion and your exploration?  
Little Pig, you are the detective of joy.
You follow all the clues and find it
right where it is hidden.
It’s a very nice and special thing
to be a Little Pig. There are so many
special sounds a pig can make,
including emphatic squealing, a low, vibrating
purring kind of sound, and then your median oink,
the general and continuous commentary
of contentedness throughout the day.
And a pig’s excitement is so easily,
so fluently expressed, and free for all
to hear—“Something good is about
to happen!” “I know something good
is coming this way!” For there are many
deceptions that will make a Little Pig
misperceive—or—hope for the best, because
a Little Pig is your permanent optimist.
Be it the sound of a plastic bag crinkling
or house keys jangling or the refrigerator door
opening—a Little Pig will always jump
to the best possible conclusion, the best
possible outcome, and a Little Pig’s full faith
in these ambiguous situations is
a true joy to behold. It is often
that a Little Pig crafts her own
destiny by so moving anyone who listens
to provide for her the joy that she expects,
a piece of lettuce, a grape or carrot, a slice of
berry, a scratch behind the ears, for any
of these things will please a Little Pig beyond
earthly measure, shame, shame on us.
It’s okay to run on your track, Little Pig.
Run around as fast as you can.
Listen to that scuffle your tiny claws
make on the plywood track!
You can go faster than you ever thought
possible, you are a streak of rainbow,
you are a shooting star, Little Pig!  Do you know
what that is, have you ever seen
the night, I mean, the night that has stars
and not just darkness, not just a
carpeted black? Listen to your speed, Little Pig!
You can run as fast as you want!
It will all be fine if you run and run,
you can run all day! You can run all night!  
You can run until you’re tired!  You can jump too,
just a little leaping as you run, just a leap
into the air now and then as you run,
you can feel your whole
body in the air—you’re free, Little Pig!
You’re free from the ground!
And you are such a nimble pig, even though
you are shaped a bit like a
stuffed Christmas stocking
or a somewhat bulky burrito
or a hoagie with too many
toppings or a woolly-bear caterpillar, you are built
somehow to run and leap and find joy
in the air, I hear you
oinking as you run, for joy!  Not every animal
sings as it runs and that makes you
special, a special creature, Little Pig.  
A Little Pig is what we should
aspire to be in our own dull and compromised
minds, our calloused, sickly,
unseemly minds, fetid in a bath of bile.  
Our degraded, offcast,
baseless, contemptible, vulgar,
sordid minds. Our minds, marinating
in peevishness and overloaded with the latest
tally of wrongs committed against our own
pristine unaccountability.  Dishonorable and indelicate,
Little Pig, we are not fit
to take care of you, and so often
we fail and you do not get to live
like you deserve through no
fault of your own, Little Pig, through no
failing of your own. No failing of your
character, no failing of your instinct, no
failing of your efforts.  It’s not because you didn’t
try your very best.
Shake that water bottle, Little Pig.
Shake the gosh darn heck out of that empty
water bottle.  Because everyone should know
that pigs need water to slake their thirst,
that all pigs need a little water because their
mouths get a little bit dry, that’s what
happens when you’re alive, it’s only the
natural thing, and a Little Pig needs some water
to keep going through the day.  Thrash
the heck out of that plastic bottle, Little Pig.  
Everyone needs to know that they need
to provide you with enough
water for your thirst, Little Pig.  Water
for your present thirst and water for your future thirst.
And some water to dribble from the sides
of your mouth as you drink.
Because everyone knows that a water bottle
is not the most efficient dispenser
of water, but you catch what you can,
Little Pig.  You drink water as best as you can,
until you don’t feel thirsty anymore, until
the moment of your thirst has passed and you don’t
notice it anymore, you can
forget about it for the time being without even
trying, your attention moves to a new
place, easy and unconcerned—
It’s nice to reach up into the hay feeder
to pull down some nice fresh hay or timothy
with your teeth,
some clean, dry hay that smells fresh and nice
and tastes good too.
It’s nice to eat hay in the afternoon
when a fresh batch arrives in the feeder.
“Somebody that loves me
put that hay there,” you can think as you chew.
It’s almost like the sun
warmed that hay for you,
like the sun is feeding you
with an outstretched and friendly ray.
Good job, Little Pig, you did such a
good job today eating all the
food pellets out of your food dish, I heard you
crunching on some pellets, they’re like
chewable vitamins, lots of
good, healthy things in those there
pellets and you did a good job eating
every last one, cleaning out your whole
food dish, you didn’t even throw a tantrum
and flip your entire food dish
upside-down and urinate on its contents
or somehow accidentally get a poop
mixed in with the pellets, it’s a good thing
not to get poops in your food dish, those are
some nice manners you’ve got,
Little Pig, a real regal sense of
etiquette, you could have guests
over, you could author a manual, you could
receive foil-backed invitations
and purchase doilies, soon you’ll be eating
with the King and Queen at Buckingham
Palace, soon I’ll be saying that I knew you
way back when—
Hello, good morning! You are a very nice
and alert pig! Good morning, nice pig!  I must say,
you’re looking a little bit fat today, Little Pig,
your rear is looking awfully
big, no offense,
like maybe you ate too much for
a few weeks in a row, maybe you
dreamed too much there, lounging on those
wood chips or in your little house, maybe
you chewed on some food in your sleep,
because today it’s catching up to you,
Little Pig, you look a bit plump, maybe a little bit
fat and ungainly, maybe it would be easier
on you if you just lost a little bit
around the middle, kept it slim, Little Pig.
Today we can go outside, Little Pig!
I’m home and I’m going to play with you,
it’s sunny today and the grass
is long!  I found some dandelions
growing in the yard, you can sit
beneath the yellow soft explosion
like your own personal sun
and chew on the jagged bitter greens
you somehow find delicious—  Maybe
it is true that every bitter thing you touch
becomes infused with a sweetness it thought
was long lost, a sweetness it thought
was no longer available to it, not now, not
after all these years, all this
time and harshness.
You are made to be such a nice creature,
Little Pig, you are a blessing to be around
for anyone.  For all people.
It is an honor to be near you, Little Pig.
It is an honor to be recognized by you
as your friend. I passed a local church recently,
and its marquee announced there would be
a “Blessing of the Animals” that particular
weekend.  I thought, how can it possibly be
that we disgusting, selfish, devouring
humans, avaricious and insatiate, rapacious
and inconsolable, filled with soiled rags
and gasoline and crumpled dollar bills,
filled with attics of rusty fans and quarry-depths
of submerged machinery, invisible blades
that dismember eager and shivering swimmers, filled
with trash compactors and glutted
disposals clogged with peels, amalgamated
monstrosities, how can it be
that we could deign to offer our
“Blessing of the Animals” to a population
ravaged by our greed, we like a plague
destroying them as we breed
and spread like a clutching, limitless disease?  
We are a godawful
species, Little Pig, obstinate
and useless. Yet you animals offer us a
blessing every day that we observe you, every
hour that we spend with you, every minute
that we think of you, you animals
offer us a blessing but nobody
hears it because guess why.
Nobody is listening. Not here, Little Pig.
The ears are stopped with clay.
It’s okay to take a nap, Little Pig.
It’s okay to take a little nap
in the middle of the afternoon when you might
be tired, Little Pig, or if it’s
too hot out, it’s okay
to take a nap if you need to lie down
or rest, if you feel a little bit sleepy
and the cedar chips seem restful, if it seems
comforting to lie down a little bit
or to stretch out, it’s okay, Little Pig.
You can lie in the sun or in the shade
as you like. You can lie in the open
or in your little house if you need
some privacy or if you want to dream,
if there’s something more, you can dream
about what’s outside, about another
world, Little Pig, where the grass grows high
and you can eat in the sun whenever
you like, and other little
pigs like you nearby eating grass—
Little Pig, you are a special, special creature,
and if everybody doesn’t know it, if they’re
more worried about their designer manicures and their
subwoofers and their vanity plates and their
gym memberships and their pant suits, that’s not
your problem. You just keep right on doing
what you like best. Something will come of it
as the days pass and pass, or maybe
not.  Maybe nothing will come of it.
Because nobody knows if a joy
will be waiting at the end of all their
efforts.  But you, you
could care less, since you find
a hidden joy in all things.  You
are the sweetest creature
there ever was. How were you
made and how do you
bring joy to everyone who meets you,
no matter what, no matter who?  You are the common
denominator, Little Pig, it’s only you.  
Good night, sweet pig, good night.
It’s nice to give you one last pat
before we both go to sleep for the night.
You can go into your remotest
hidey-hole and curl up
in the darkest corner if that’s
what you like. All pigs need a place
that is all their own, where nobody
can reach in and drag them out.
All pigs deserve to be completely
inaccessible when it’s important to them
to have a little privacy.  Because all pigs deserve
to have their private lives and their own
dignity.  Even though it’s fun to think
that we both go to sleep together,
I know that actually the night
is one of your favorite times
to do whatever you do, Little Pig,
because sometimes I wake up and I hear you
making your soft gentle noises
or running as fast as you can.
You have your own projects, Little Pig,
that I am not privy to, that I will never
understand and I love you
for that, for your entirely
private and personal undertakings.
Thank you for humoring me, for greeting me
with a kind and happy look, an eager
and welcoming look, in the morning when I
rejoin the world and find you
joyful and excited to see me.  It’s nice
to wake up to you, Little Pig.
It’s nice to aspire to be
deserving of your love, the love
of one Little Pig, unique in all the world.


Oni Buchanan's third poetry book, Must a Violence (of which "Little Pig" is the central poem), will be published by the University of Iowa Press in October 2012 as part of its celebrated Kuhl House Poets series, curated by poet/editor Mark Levine. Her second book of poetry, Spring (University of Illinois Press, 2008), was selected by Mark Doty as a winner of the National Poetry Series, and also received the 2009 Massachusetts Book Award. Her first book, What Animal (UGA Press, 2003), was chosen by Fanny Howe as winner of the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series competition. Buchanan’s poems are featured in many anthologies including The Best American Poetry 2004 and have been published in numerous journals across the country.

She is also an accomplished concert pianist with a wide-ranging repertoire and actively performs across the U.S. and abroad.