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 the 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, sweet and sour
As rotting apricots,

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

He couldn't look up as he let
His load down 20 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.

He learned it paid to be precise.
Learned an esophagus
Was really easier to slice
Than greasy radiator hose.

LeRoy owned he'd eaten dogfood.
The kid swore he would last
Till school began. The pay was good.
"The rules are hard and fast,"

LeRoy'd sigh. "But they's the only
Ones," he'd wink and grin.
"Whatcha do when you get lonely?"
Before the days drew in

He met a girl, wheatshocking blonde.
On weekend nights they drove
Out Sweetbriar Lane and by the pond
Made love, like mad, made love.

by Stephen Yenser

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