Julie Porter

Butchering 101

If you want to bone and roll a shoulder,
if you want to fill your freezer with roasts
and ribs and avoid the meat market,
listen to me. You’ll need a stunning hammer,
skinning knife, cleaver, saw, sharpening stone,
block and tackle, and some good help.
You’ll need a hose, clean hands,
and a cool day. You’ll need this poem.

Meet the steer in the pasture and make a quick
kill. Drag it back with a tractor or truck
and cut the carotid. Chop off the dewclaws,
hook the hocks from a singletree and tie
the bung. Skin from inside out, split
breastbone from brisket, spread
the chest with a stick. Open the abdomen,
reach in and roll out the bowels and all
the viscera you can find. Hang
the liver to cool, remove the pluck
and gullet, save the heart and tongue.
Sharpen the knives, split the pelvis,
and saw down the backbone.

When the halves are hanging by hooks,
and your clothes are blood-soaked, go home
to your clean carpet and happy dog. Know though,
that once you’ve harvested a farm animal,
once you’ve touched the creamy marbling of a loin,
cracked bone and popped joints, your hands
will travel the body differently. You’ll cup
your lover’s buttocks like soft hams, finger ribs
like the rungs of a warm carcass, and nibble
breasts like you smell the meat beneath them.

Send it to the Renderer

Send the deadstock, the flattened
skunks and rats, the butcher scraps,
the bad taxidermy, the rotted meat,
and diner grease. Send the breast
sag, toe-webbing, bat wings, skin
tags, and cataracts. Send the gall
stones, bone spurs, and weak
embryos. Send the extra sonnet
syllables, the rejection letters
and smoke them. Light them up,
brew them down, and scatter
them like hard fat, like rice
at the wedding of a former lover.

at "All God's Creatures


They mount anything
including pets. A bird
dog in a perpetual point,
aims at a puddle duck
stuck in plastic sea
grass. A macaw
too pretty to part with
mimics life, its saber-
shaped tail an on-ramp
for dust mites.

Racks, resin, mannequins,
feign life everlasting
while hides, tanned and treated
to enliven blank molds,
cover hollow insides.
Breathless heads
and a menagerie of shoulder
mounts dot the wall, all looking
nowhere forever in wild unison.
In the corner, a bowl of glass
eyes reflect our presence
as if to say, if we are good
enough, look good enough,
no one will know we are dead.