The Honest Sound of Gunshots
My grandfather had cows. Two of them.
Mike and Ike.
Each year he would take them to the slaughter house
and fill the freezer for the year,
buying two more calves. Mike and Ike again.
Depending on their personality,
he would let me ride them like a fat, slow horse
In the summer heat.
The slaughterhouses were my introduction to death.
The cows and hogs delivered at the end of the season,
creatures I had watched grow and fatten all summer, killed.
It was brutal and the smell was horrific,
metallic and foul, Each gunshot made you twitch.
That, the deliberate killing was both a nightmare
and yet at the same time, normal. The way of things.
I was a child then. I went each year until I was eighteen
and began to stay home for summers,
working to earn enough for college and car
and the occasional date.
I missed the farm life, but not the slaughterhouse.
And here I am, oldish and greying.
I am told the preparation of animals is less brutal,
but I have no desire to go back and see
if it is so.
I am horrified enough at the world we live in,
and the easy sacrifice of lives, the normalization
of abandonment, slow death by hunger, uncertainty,
illness, the withholding of heath, the locking away
from opportunity. No gunshots involved,
a death rather silent and out of sight,
and no one twitches and few mourn.
Now that I think of it.
I think I prefer the slaughterhouse,
and the honest sound of gunshots.
About this poem.
This one likely will make some of you uncomfortable, or even angry. I am sorry. But sometimes the understanding of what we do to people, and don’t do for people, breaks my heart.
That’s why they call us bleeding heart liberals, I guess. And sometimes it bleeds out as poetry.