Farah Ghafoor: “The Goat”

Jack Grapes Poetry Prize 2019 finalist selected by judge Alexis Rhone Fancher

The extraordinary imagery of this poem, its technicolor brutality, spectacle and regret, and its remarkable ending impressed me from the first reading and kept me coming back. I loved its constraint and musicality. Astonishing.

— Alexis Rhone Fancher


The Goat

What should I have said to the man

in my grandmother’s backyard after

he emptied its head bright into scorched

grass? Maybe: why isn’t there any blue


before the blood browns or I’d rather

not have watched. That afternoon, I ate

well and my heart was satisfied

beating alone. Tell me how it is to crave


this touch and take it. Your hands on flesh

rising to meet you, opening

up so willingly and closing

around the cleaver. I wouldn’t


know. Someone could love me

and I would seize, expose mooned eyes,

take to closed doors and welcome

home the short breath. This year has


not made me a butcher. I can laugh

in front of my grandmother at picnics

with blood in my throat, remain good

in the sun, around kids.


I clean up after myself, barbeque

what is left after the guests leave.


Throw the scraps to the dogs and watch

as they’re torn apart.

What are you looking for?