by Leanne Averbach
From somewhere over there
the monotonous people-screams
of pigs are cut with pops
innocent as firecrackers.
from the cows, the stoics,
who swallow their fear
with salt oboe moans.
I've been sent to the Kill Floor
for a special task. 10,000 sealed packs of bologna
forgotten and spoiled. A few of us are chosen,
assigned to crouch around The Pit
and empty the units of meat
one-by-creamy-one; but after an hour,
only two of us have not run off
to empty ourselves.
The stench, having nowhere to go, crawls
into my mouth, while my eyes and ears
get busy arguing ontology. Without their hair
save a few sprigs missed by the flame gun
animals have no race; beneath their browns
reds and calicos, they are all plain as white men,
severely deformed white men: best to eat them.
The freshly deceased.
Slung cheek to cheek they
glide overhead on hooked tracks.
Spilling onto the beetle heads of men.
My meatmate and I work silently
avoid the hazards of open mouths
toss the rotten meat into the hole
for dog food, fertilizer.
Across the gorge a face
beneath a hair net, the rubbery surface of her skin
now thick with oily atmosphere and that hardhat
spilling red from above and down her neck
The woman on the other side
works out the day with me, until at last:
the sudden, boorish beauty of the horn whistle.
It urges us to the exit.
The bang of the card clock
triggers talk about the blueglow and beer to come
as hardhats and smocks
purple from brush strokes with flesh
weave out through the less soiled