The Slaughter-House
Hayes, Alfred (1911-)

Under the big 500-watted lamps, in the huge sawdusted gov-
      ernment inspected slaughter-house,
head down from hooks and clamps, run on trolleys over
the animals die.
Whatever terror their dull intelligences feel
      or what agony distorts their most protruding eyes
the incommunicable narrow skulls conceal.
      Across the sawdusted floor,
ignorant as children, they see the butcher's slow
      methodical approach
in the bloodied apron, leather cap above, thick square shoes 
struggling to comprehend this unique vision upside down,
and then approximate a human scream
      as from the throat slit like a letter
the blood empties, and the windpipe, like a blown valve, spurts
But I, sickened equally with the ox and lamb,
      misread my fate,
mistake the butcher's love
      who kills me for the meat I am
to feed a hungry multitude beyond the sliding doors.
      I, too, misjudge the real
purpose of this huge shed I'm herded in:  not for my love
      or lovely wool am I here,
but to make some world a meal.
      See, how on the unsubstantial air
I kick, bleating my private woe,
      as upside down my rolling sight
somersaults, and frantically I try to set my world upright;
      too late learning why I'm hung here,
whose nostrils bleed, whose life runs out from eye and ear.

Immortal Poems of the English Language (Williams)