Carnal Knowledge

Now LeRoy on the kill room floor
Was almost larger than life.
Mondays the green fatigues he wore
Had creases sharp as the knife

That was his very bread and butter,
And his face was hand-carved ebony.
For days the new boy with the stutter
Stayed out of LeRoy’s way.

Later that summer he learned to tell
(After LeRoy had his fun)
A skinned pizzle from a skinned tail
And not to grind the one

Into the dogfood mix he’d pour
In boxes, freeze in lots.
He’d scoop up cheeks, as sweet and sour
As rotting apricots,

And fill each barrel till it weighed
Two hundred pounds and more.
The elevator rope had frayed
So many years before

He couldn’t look up as he let
His load down twenty feet.
LeRoy laughed to see him sweat
And went on boning meat.

Across the street, at the Blue Moon,
He flashed a friend’s draft card
And drank one tall red beer each noon.
The barmaid made it hard

(He would have said he had “a heart on”),
But he’d punch in on time,
Hose the concrete down, then start on
The tripe, slick with chyme.

He marveled at the huge pink lungs
(“They’s soft as a big gal’s knockers”)
That he hung up with hearts and tongues
On hooks in chilling lockers.