Today’s featured poem Meat is Murder is, as the title suggests, not for the squeamish (‘bled down the step’, ‘hanging those soft stretched bodies’) but there is such beauty in the imagery (‘dew-clawed and raspberry eyed’, ‘ruby jewels and red jellies’, ‘lifted on a diesel breeze’). The butcher of the poem is under attack and turns to drastic action in order to keep the family business going (‘the son of a butcher, who was son of a butcher’s son) to the point where this time it is possibly not the animals whose blood has been spilled.
The poem is based on a true story from Roy’s home town in the 1980s, when a butcher’s shop had paint thrown over it, I am sure is inspired by The Smiths’ song. Now, vegetarianism has become a more popular choice of many people and there appears less antipathy towards your local butcher, although this is probably to do with a decline in independent traders. The world is a more corporate place where pressures on profits mean economies of scale translate into ‘mixed meat’ solutions as the revelation of horse meat in the EU food chain showed. It is this development I think that makes the poem very poignant; the decline in family and independent businesses and the rise in large corporations whose income matches that of small countries and whose political influence is much greater. Ironically, it has always been the capitalists that have understood Karl Marx better than the Marxists (read John Lanchester on Marx at 193). (more…)