Chicken parts 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

2.8.13 No Guts, No Glory

by Ellen Bass


What did I love about killing the chickens? Let me start
with the drive to the farm as darkness

was sinking back into the earth.

The road damp and shining like the snail’s silver

ribbon and the orchard

with its bony branches. I loved the yellow rubber

aprons and the way Janet knotted my broken strap.

And the stainless-steel altars

we bleached, Brian sharpening

the knives, testing the edge on his thumbnail. All eighty-eight Cornish

hens huddled in their crates. Wrapping my palms around

their white wings, lowering them into the tapered urn.

Some seemed unwitting as the world narrowed;

some cackled and fluttered; some struggled.

I gathered each one, tucked her bright feet,

drew her head through the kill cone’s sharp collar,

her keratin beak and the rumpled red vascular comb

that once kept her cool as she pecked in her mansion of grass.

I didn’t look into those stone eyes. I didn’t ask forgiveness.

I slid the blade between the feathers

and made quick crescent cuts, severing

the arteries just under the jaw. Blood like liquor

pouring out of the bottle. When I see the nub of heart later,

it’s hard to believe such a small star could flare

like that. I lifted each body, bathing it in heated water

until the scaly membrane of the shanks

sloughed off under my thumb.

And after they were tossed in the large plucking drum

I love the newly naked birds. Sundering

the heads and feet neatly at the joints, a poor

man’s riches for golden stock. Slitting a fissure

reaching into the chamber,

freeing the organs, the spill of intestine, blue-tinged gizzard,

the small purses of lungs, the royal hearts,

easing the floppy liver, carefully, from the green gall bladder,

its bitter bile. And the fascia unfurling

like a transparent fan. When I tug the esophagus

down through the neck, I love the suck and release

as it lets go. Then slicing off the anus with its gray pearl

of shit. Over and over, my hands explore

each cave, learning to see with my fingertips. Like a traveller

in a foreign country, entering church after church.

In every one the same figures of the Madonna, Christ on the Cross,

which I’d always thought was gore

until Marie said to her it was tender,

the most tender image, every saint and political prisoner,

every jailed poet and burning monk.

But though I have all the time in the world

to think thoughts like this, I don’t.

I’m empty as I rinse each carcass,

and this is what I love most.

It’s like when the refrigerator turns off and you hear

the silence. As the sun rose higher

we shed our sweatshirts and moved the coolers into the shade,

but, other than that, no time passed.

I didn’t get hungry. I didn’t want to stop.

I was breathing from some right reserve.

We twisted each pullet into plastic, iced and loaded them in the cars.

I loved the truth. Even in just this one thing:

looking straight at the terrible,

one-sided accord we make with the living of this world.

At the end, we scoured the tables, hosed the dried blood,

the stain blossoming through the water.

Tagged — butchery
Ls & bird 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

11.9.12 Pluck U

Attention: This post contains some very graphic photos! If you are not prepared to see the actual process of a chicken being slaughtered and processed, read no further.

For those of you who eat chicken and would like to understand how it goes from being a living being to a nourishing food on your plate, please read on. The photos are not meant to distress or sensationalize, merely to document the steps necessary in a small, hands-on operation. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with this, as I'm hoping it may affect your desire to consume industrially raised and processed animals. I think it's really important to understand how the animals we eat are fed, treated and killed; to make every effort possible to ensure humane treatment; and to refuse to eat anything whose origins are uncertain. For a more thorough explication of my beliefs on this subject, go here.
Tagged — butchery