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1. Recipe for: Fried Frog Legs

Partition the legs into thigh and lower calf.Cut the body cavity crosswise
and chopthe whole thing in half—into
sections.Handle the cadaver with latex gloves and a stoic
10” forged steel chef’s knife.Blot to get rid of any excess blood.Never, never,
it something banal like Carl.By giving it a name
you have said,you are not dinner; you have made a contractual agreement
with it.

Instead, prepare the brine;then brine.Batter.
Deep fry.And when breaded—when dissected,neutered, when crispy,
and unrecognizable—
only then, call it a dish,but not Carl.Call it a bowl of hearty
And discardthe surnamewith the giblet.

3. Instructions for Dissecting a Fetal Pig (Sus scrofa)

Each specimen was prepared as follows:
The fetuses were salvaged
from pregnant sows being slaughtered;
were removed and embalmed
with preservatives injected through the umbilicus.

Safety Concerns & Hygiene:
Never splash others with the liquid found
in the pig buckets.
Pieces of pig must be disposed of properly—
not down the disposal.

Compulsory Equipment:
Scalpel, blunt
probe, forceps, and scissors

Resist the temptation to name the fetal pig: the fetal pig
is sufficient—is plenty satisfactory.
Keep in mind, it is Sus scrofa,
for those of you who need precision—precision
is for the squeamish.
Simply point out and name its plain
pig parts; come to know it in this way and no other way.

(Violators may experience the ridicule
of peers, may be prosecuted
by a gut wrenching
while tagging tissues. Violators
will giggle more than usual in an effort to moderate
an ever mounting sense of revulsion).

Finally, slice open and explore
pig Perceval’s coelom and thoracic cavity. Lay
it out like an amusement park map
rather than as something like decomposition.
Label the Liver the Ferris Wheel,
the Vena Cava the Tilt-a-Whirl, the left lung the Zipper,
and the Hypothalamus the Teacups.

3. Never Mind the Bullhooks

We must find the dead and broken bodies—the ones Darwin discussed;
the ones under the tree and in the crust:
the John and Janie Does, the evidence for who buried
them there—who already did for us the good of dissection and/or devoured
their flesh and drank their blood—and express our sincerest gratitude;
for what’s been done is done and saves us all
a step. We’ll turn blind eyes to fiendish
atrocity, to dung and death, to pockets full of bona fides,
to dental records, dog tags and medical bracelets, to proper
interment or epitaphs; instead, exhume the corpses’ dismemberment
to carbon date and bleach
their bones for placard and display: to introduce dear aunt Lucy—
the bearded lady, bipedal ape, sideshow Australopithecus,
like the armless and legless
rarity unimportant except for a pelvis and a drawn piece of muslin audience.
Of whom not one will have the balls to sing,
they can’t do that to you, Lucy—Miss. Pelvis, Miss Thing.
And marveling, march past the curiosities—the alien of their skin stretched with pushpins
on tables or blanched in the boil of fluorescents—
down the midway, past the butchers screaming, “Burn the lot”,
past the spinning jinny, the sugar shack—the hammer-squash,
the mark and mooch—all buried in the ballyhoo.

First published in the Fall issue of The Los Angeles Review (2011). This poem received a 2011 Pushcart Prize nomination.

Praise from the editors:

“Though LAR does not often publish the more experimental forms of poetry, we were enchanted by James Allman’s ‘Corpus Delicti’ and the notably sharp, tight-fitting corners of both the poems’ lines and the author’s wit. Form, thought and rhythm come together to make a strikingly vivid and at times even chaotic masterpiece. The combination of raw, visercal details and intellectual accuracy makes this poem fodder for much haunting thought long after the page has turned. Not for the lighthearted and not for the novice, ‘Corpus Delicti’ embodies exactly what contemporary poetry should be: powerful, well-crafted, and smart.”

—Tanya Chernov, Poetry Editor (Los Angeles Review)