Graphic: "Meat Boy," by Deborah Randall
Meat Packing
Amy MacLennan

Don’t stop to wipe the gore
from your face, just move
to the next set of cuts.
Try to keep the keen on your blade,
it’s got to be sharp to slice
through the beef without any drag
on your bones, your flesh.
With four thousand head a day,
the grab and trim becomes your world,
the fat on the floor, you step
through the grume, it splashes
your boots. But don’t
look down, watch the knife,
the hilt in your hand, it might
stick then fly and you’re packed
in close. As the belt speeds up,
check your metal apron,
cinch it tight, seven pounds of mail
all that protects your belly and back.
Hide the small wounds, ten stitches
or less, the boss won’t look,
he’s got numbers to make.
Remember the speed of the line,
think only of steel and meat.