Stench

It usually happened in summertime

Hot humid winds

Out of the west

Blew east

Over the city of Chicago

To the shores of Lake Michigan

Bringing with them

A stench

From the Chicago stockyards

The slaughter houses

There

 

Stench

A word from my childhood

Spoken by the adults

Around me

The words     stockyard

Slaughter house

I understood surrounded cows

Waiting to be killed

For meat

Now rationed by World War II

It had no impact on me     then

Until

A photograph in a magazine

A holding pen

With cattle crammed together

Waiting for slaughter

Made me sorrowfully aware

Of what the west winds

Signified

 

The Chicago stockyards

The slaughter houses

Long gone

But not holding pens

Slaughter houses

In other places

Cattle crammed so tightly

Together

None hardly move

 

I have stopped eating meat

 

There’s a stench

Here

An awful stench

Here

Words from a TV commentator

A congresswoman from the House of

Representatives

They face a large enclosure

Like a cage     a true

Cage

Inside     a hundred or

More

Immigrant men

Standing shoulder to shoulder

No room to sit     to lie down

To sleep

A few fortunate ones on the

Floor

They stand looking out

The TV camera

Records     their faces

Some raise their arms

Silent

Helpless

 

Seeing these immigrant

Men

Crammed together in that

Cage

I think back on my

Childhood

To the west winds

Blowing to the east

Over Chicago

On hot humid summer

Days

And remember the stench

I remember the stench

And what that stench

Means

 

I remember

3 thoughts on “Stench

  • August 12, 2019 at 3:24 pm
    Permalink

    This is superb! It should be sent to all 535 members of our Legislature.

    Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 2:12 am
    Permalink

    truth. so much truth. thank you for sharing grandma wendy.

    Reply

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