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  • You cannot argue with a herd of gentle manatees,
    who’ve circled together, playing in wave after wave of open sea.
    Outside the estuary, Sam the butcher
    lures the slow moving mammals to the shore.
    His knives shift at the bottom of his dinghy.
    Painted violet sunset, sweltering heat, malaria ague
    sweat pools over his sunburnt skin.
    He’ll rest as the tide comes back in.
    his coccyx sore from sitting,
    - weeks of waiting
    Hunger gets the best of him,
    his stomach churns in time to his outboard motor.
    He hums a song to himself.

    Soft bellied and slightly sweet,
    the choicest cuts of sea cow meat

    The tail and peduncle are primarily the best.
    Harpooned, cut, cubed, and cured with salt,
    500 pounds can feed the village.
    He’ll remove the fat and sinew
    and save the flippers
    for they are as delicate as hands.
    There’s blood in the evening water.
    The mammals surface,
    smelling fever, breathing air.

    Note: This poem was written in a poetry class in which students wrote random words on the whiteboard and we were instructed to use all the words within one poem: Manatee, Ague, Coccyx, Peduncle, Cubed, Violet. An interesting exercise to read everyone's writing and all the directions the poems went.
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