“The Big Cats” is an ongoing poetry cycle written and read by Val Vinokur, and published weekly at Public Seminar. For more, read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, and Part X.
THE BIG CATS
If for some reason you have missed
the touch and breath of a fellow
human primate, pick up a sign and march
and you just might feel the unmasked
handling, heat, and halitosis of the State,
which cannot find a cure for citizenship
and cannot federalize care, but will spray
fresh pepper in your eyes like a lackey
livid, liveried, and eager to restore your faith
in the faithlessness of laws.
This palpative uncommonwealth, a thing held
or pulled apart like a tightrope or meat off the bone.
It’s a symbol, apparently, the mark of a creed:
syn — together; bole — throwing. But we are cast
into the repleted gullet of an ungoverned beast,
to feast like microbes on his undigested cud,
until he’s had his fill of us and we of him.
Val Vinokur teaches literature and translation at The New School and is the founding editor of Poets & Traitors Press.