"Feedlot," a poem by Hannah Smith. 
On earth, we pack our food 
with more food. Forced eating and castration, a bunch of cattle 
compressed across such small acres,
not enough room for them to graze
or shit. What is a prayer, if not
gas leaking past the troposphere,
slowly, to the heavens? Methane burns holes in the ozone. I might
as well thread this needle through
my stomach, plump with fluid
from a cyst swelled to rupture.
Mine’s a body absorbing its own
surplus. We could all use a good
shower if we could just save
enough water for some collective
baptism. I’m not sure I’ve ever
touched a cow, though my hands
have known beef, breast, our basest
parts: stuffed, clutched, bellowing
low in the night. We mucked grass
back into clay. I’m made of nothing
except carbon. Now, our footprints
muddle together in the corral
with no sense of hoof and toe,
no knowledge of god or whether
we’ll make it through the gate
before having our feet knocked
out from under us.

Hannah Smith is a writer from Dallas, Texas. She received an MFA in Poetry from the Ohio State University, where she served as Managing Editor of The Journal. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Best New Poets, Gulf Coast, Image, and elsewhere. She is a 2023 National Poetry Series Finalist, and her collaborative chapbook, Metal House of Cards, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.