Piling Blood

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Piling Blood

It was powdered blood in heavy brown paper bags supposed to be strong enough to prevent the stuff from escaping but didn't we piled it ten feet high right to the shed roof working at Arrow Transfer on Granville Island The bags weighed 75 pounds and you had to stand on two of the bags to pile the top rows I was six feet three inches and needed all of it I forgot to say the blood was cattle blood horses sheep and cows to be used for fertilizer the foreman said It was a matter of some delicacy to plop the bags down softly as if you were piling dynamite if you weren't gentle the stuff would belly out from bags in brown clouds settle on your sweating face cover hands and arms enter ears and nose seep inside pants and shirt reverting back to liquid blood and you looked like you'd been scalped by a tribe of particularly unfreindly Indians and forgot to die We piled glass as well it came in wooden crates two of us hoicking them off trucks into warehouses every crate weighing 200 pounds By late afternoon my muscles would twitch and throb in a death-like rhythm from hundreds of bags of blood and hundreds of crates of glass Then at Burn's slaughterhouse on East Hastings Street I got a job part time shouldering sides of frozen beef hoisting it from steel hooks staggering to and from the refrigerated trucks and eerie freezing rooms with breath a white vapour among the dangling corpses and the sound of bawling animals screeched down from an upper floor with their throats cut and blood gurgling into special drains for later retrieval And the blood smell clung to me clung to clothes and body sickly and sweet and I heard the screams of dying cattle and I wrote no poems there were no poems to exclude the screams which boarded the streetcar and travelled with me till I reached home turned on the record player and faintly in the last century heard Beethoven weeping

Canada Lit.

15 or so years ago I saw Purdy read on south Granville,

across from where the Vancouver papers, the Sun and the Province,

use to be printed, it could have been a press club

and i believe it was

                         a chinese lady read a poem
                                      about her boyfriend pissing on her

while she sat on the toilet

and then she drank and smoked cigarettes and watched the sun come up from her east side apartment

                                                      Purdy was not impressed

and the organizers had to

take him outside to calm him down

then he read about subduing a drunk and beer tasting like a horse fart

which my house painter friend found amusing

    After i went to talk with him and buy a book from a stall he had set up…                              i believe his wife was there…

i asked him what book i should buy and he said his best one was “Piling Blood.”

he signed a copy and punched me on the shoulder

i can’t remember why…

working class poems don’t seem to get a lot of play in literary magazines…

and if they do…

it is sentimentalized…

academia is not part of the masses

they do not represent the working people…ok fine

working outside in minus twenty

is not romantic or fun,

you just want the day to end

so you can get warm.

Al Purdy was a poet who worked and drank and wondered.