Possibly the best poem about what's in the back of your refrigerator.
Kleinzahler's love sonnet to what we fear, fail to understand and try to kill -- the little things that run the world and make us who we are.
Please don't read at meal time.
Animalcules heave their tackling,
ladders of polysaccharides,
onto the meatmilkshrimp&creamy emulsions,
sticking like putrefactive Velcro.
The refrigerator switches on in the darkness,
a murmuring, perfervid sadhu close at hand.
Turbidity, gases, a silky clouding over—
gray slime spreads across hot dog casings,
a sour reechiness transpires below.
However much by day we shore up our defenses,
darling, over time they find their way back
to slowly assail our dwindling larder.
Liquefaction, spoilage and rot—
mephitic flora spread apace,
leaving behind them a ropiness, butyric off-odors.
Ludamilla's prize-winning kraut goes pink.
Fetor of broken proteins—
the drumstick fluoresces, alight with Pseudomonads.
There has to be a music to it all,
I'm certain, if only one could hear it:
a Lilliputian string ensemble's low humming,
an almost inaudible cicada surge,
earwax hissing in peroxide solution,
sausage frying in a distant room.
Good, patient Leeuwenhoek of Delft,
having "partook of hot smoked beef, that was a bit fat,
or ham," of which he was most fond,
suffered a grave ruction below
and so put to work his celebrated lens
that he might better examine his troubled stool
and found there an animalcule, nay many,
but one especially, in the figure of an eel
that "bent its body serpent-wise,"
"a-moving prettily," he made thorough note
in a letter to his estimable coequal, Robert Hooke,
and "as quick as a pike through water."
Sleep, my angel, sleep,
though everywhere out there they are among us,
within, as well, wriggling deep,
they prosper into our dark complement, and by us dwell
in perfect equipoise: your inviolate sweetness
amidst that which is vile&writhing&smells.
by August Kleinzahler, Sleeping It Off In Rapid City: Poems, New and Selected, 2008