Abattoir by Colin Carberry
by Steven McCabe
The stench of knackered horse carcasses seethes
into noon’s flushed stagnant light. Each slow,
inescapable death breath blights, impedes,
confuses; hits home with a body blow’s
paralyzing insistence, Let me in.
My one fan whines full tilt, I try to write,
but the sweat sticks, rasps like a second skin.
A stoned sun blanks down on the same old shite.
Blue skies blacken. Somnolent church bells toil.
Coarse hands sort the day’s takings in a till.
Our streetlight blinks and goes out. One by one
the furniture store’s night screens rattle shut.
A school bus bearing the shades of burnt out
workers belches past, RUTA: BABYLON
Colin Carberry is an Irish-Canadian poet and translator and the director of the Linares International Literary Festival (Mexico).
Colin Carberry has said this poem is all about death and our powerlessness against it. In this work he blends, acutely, an existential scenario with social realism. I am reminded of the French expressionist painter Chaim Soutine who painted street scenes in Paris. And how, with obsessive, raw emotion he depicted carcasses hanging in butcher shop windows. Chaim Soutine at his end, sleeping in forests, hiding from the Gestapo, as sadly knackered as the horses in Carberry’s poem. And into the window of an unbearably hot room comes a seething stench as the death breath impedes and confuses the poet. The poet painting a street scene with words, situating the fragility of the senses, while rendering an empathy. Wherever I look in this poem I find empathy. The manipulated map is, appropriately, a visual metaphor.
I remember Soutine’s beef carcass paintings from my art-school days. I can certainly see the connection of labored layered rawness with the images you have produced to go with the poem- very intense, all of it. Hard and real.
Thank you Jack. Yes I think hard and real it is.
Intense yes, and thought provoking.
Wow. I’m almost speechless. A map of death rendered in flesh – all very powerful.
Thank you Karen, & your description adds a poetic allegory.