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.