The Benevolence of the Butcher
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher that we expect our dinner.
—Adam Smith
In spite of kids in latex gloves
palming Boar’s Head ham on scales,
he’s not history yet.  He’s as proud
of his work as a blood-spatter expert
breaking the code of sprayed gore.
Next door left, in the gourmet shop,
brie and baguettes; Love-Lies-Bleeding
in the garden center next door right.
Two witches, catty-corner, run
a crystal shop.  Self is the artful
lie it tells itself, Mind is no more
than neural chuck.  We know
it’s only human to wait in line
for the choicest cuts, to forecast
when our number’s up, to tense
what feels a lifetime for the flash—
all that forbearance just to end up
a rat-eyed stiff.  Blood-gouted
apron in a hamper, the butcher
drives home by instinct, and day-
dreams, at the red traffic lights,
of tongue, our strongest muscle.
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