Thus having brought together the herds of stertorous flesh -
hung hooks clanking to the wind their wispy tails

blow into the killing shed - Jenkins wrings his hand.
A gelding accident, some six years past: the blade flipped

from his stumbling fingers; and now his mangled digits
are udders that sail and flop at the waist. Yet a man

Jenkins is, whether knocking back his Speights
at The Four Seasons, or here, working that gnarled fist

in the folds of his hat, as he guides those dumb beasts,
their great haunches whirling and clicking like cogs

in a giant clock made of meat, as he shoos those bovines
down the funnel of a thousand years of technological progress:

their lips blurting to the bolt shivering in each spine,
the soft marrow of their skulls shattering into sausage.

'Abbatoir' from The Dialectic of Mud (Auckland University Press, 2001), © Richard Reeve 2001, used by permission of the author and the publishers. Poet’s private recording 2011.

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