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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 26 page 22


King of the Hill

by Taegan MacLean

dad stands on top of the manure pile.
shirtless. gold-chested. king of the pile.

pitchfork in hand — his regal trident,
scepter, wand, staff, blade.

the pitchfork makes a thuck sound
as he shoves it into the reeking mound.

dad with his salesman smile, gap-toothed,
taking manure from one side of the pile

and hauling it to the other side.
one side to the other. king of the manure.

we are below the pile. his fervent sons.
some sons by blood, some by happenstance.

we haul manure from the stalls to the pile.
wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow.

we, in the stalls, with rags over our faces.
tears in our eyes. teasing one another.

brother saying, “hey, brother! did you know?
a horse can piss up to two gallons a day.”

we cough from the stench as it settles in the lungs.
a horse tends to piss in the same location.

the ammonia steeps there. an improper tea.
your head kicks back when nose hits fume.

we fill the wheelbarrows, dad yelling from
the other side of the barn, from the pile,

“keep it coming boys, keep that shit coming!”
his gap-toothed smile. his shit-smelling golden skin.

we run the wheelbarrows over to the pile.
turds the size of baseballs bobbing in the barrow.

and goddam he enjoys it. the sun on his back.
the warm manure under his feet. he winks at us,

“good job my boy. now bring me another.”
and we run back to the stalls, satisfied,

looking over our shoulders every few steps,
him with his trident, shimmering, supernal.

our dad atop the filthy yellow straw,
alive, alive. sweat beading on his brow.

dad stabbing at the pile with the sun behind him.
from our vantage, he’s standing in the sun itself,

rays beaming off his shoulders. we laugh and jeer
to mask our awe, “that’s dad, the shit pile king.”