Two sonnets from The Live Album by Kat Payne Ware, published by Broken Sleep Books on 31 July 2021
The fragility, juiciness, desirability and proper taste and smell of
meat are the most important qualities of pork for the consumer.
– Urszula Ostaszewska, ‘The impact of transport on the quality of pig meat’
DARK, FIRM, DRY,  and nose to rump
we convoy cleanly in at twenty-five
degrees. It’s dim — the dawn is not yet plump;
our driver carries sleep-fat in his eyes.
The trailer’s drainage bed is dark and dry
my footing’s firm the first time in a life.
The mister sweats for me, and I recline
happyish, all thought and meat, then light
drives us into day. The boars afright:
the slatted beams flash over us like bar-
codes; a pig is crushed against the night
life’s end; the searching torches of the star
transform us in our sunbed. Make us dark.
The day stretched over us like Formica.
PALE, SOFT, EXUDATIVE:  I’m raw
material. Susceptible enzyme.
O ensemble of cuts, let no flaw
interfere in the production line
let my yield have body. Is it mine —
this walking assemblage, this brass band
of shaking pinkness? Is it nearly time
to snuff my name and let the flaming brand
sing from these wax chops? Businessman
don’t be soft. Your part is to exude
confidence. To lead me up the ramp
with pale hands. I need you to delude
me into faith: staring down the bolt
gun, the bolted sow, the bolted door.
1 ‘DFD (dark, firm, dry) meat is characterised by a pH higher than normal. This type of meat occurs when animals are subjected to prolonged stress or intense physical effort immediately prior to slaughter … The pig production cycle usually takes place in enclosed buildings, so reducing exposure to sunlight reduces the level of stress’
2 ‘PSE (pale, soft, exudative) meat is characterised by a faster than usual decrease in pH below 5. This is due to the intense, brief stress response to which animals are exposed immediately prior to slaughter (inappropriate handling of animals during unloading, mixing of unknown individuals).’