Meat Packing Plant

Tracey Moffat Meat Packing

The Baying of the Cows:

Hoof and Horn, Hoof and Horn.

All that dies shall be reborn.

 Each week we stand, Monday to Saturday, armed against the spray of blood and gristle, in our stiff little hats and coats, in our helmets and our hairnets, in our bright and bold bandannas. Dodging and grinning we cleave, chop and heave great humps of meat, into boxes onto pallets, onto trucks that whirr, out into the silent blue night. Coming soon, to a supermarket near you. Unpacked, shrink-wrapped, prodded, sniffed and jabbed, ready, raw and bloody, ripe, for your consumption.

Amidst the bounce and splatter of an occasionally hurled eye, we feint left, then right, behind the foreman’s back, dodging gelatinous bites of fat flicked clumsily from rubber-covered thumbs and tips of knives, at uncovered faces and foreheads. We weep with laughter, trimming fat from the raw and bloody bodies of cows, of cows, of cows.

 Warm blood once surged through pulsing veins in the thick and bristly necks of heifers, now clotted, cold and sticky and, blacking silver benches. A tide of pink, a frothy mix, diluted blood and offal, pools and swirls around a drain, a pungent caustic river.  Rotted flesh swept toward waste disposal units where maggots writhe, squirm, and sway; an eyeless, open-mouthed praying.

Pulley hooks shriek, conveyors groan, bodies swing and sway, and beat a hollow thud in time, thumping dully against another. Naked, flayed, skinned and pink, helpless, boneless bodies lay, waiting to be passed through blades, weighed, packaged and labelled; hand-picked, hand-hacked, hand-delivered, fresh from the factory floor, boxes of flesh and bone, wrapped, in candy-coloured coffins.

Fire and Rain, Fire and Rain

All that dies shall rise again.

Hats, hairnets, helmets, and our bright and bold bandannas protect raw and bloodied bodies of cows from our corruption; skin, spittle, saliva, and silken strands of hair, as all the once aliveness of us gravitates toward, the vibrantly red, dead flesh wobbling brightly, on counters, before us.

Image: Tracey Moffat First Jobs, Meat Packing 1978. 


Sheep Ship

She glitters. Out on the horizon. Set off by the sun sinking softly. Clouds spitting, a spray of tangelo, ruby-red, and crimson – all thick and fat and fighting; excited and busted, gushing, broken-open, lusting. Biting one another. All over that fuck-off smash of a sky. Ship of death, ship of doom, leaking shit. A lanolin smear. A urine cloud. Hanging hot. Hanging heavy. Smudge of stillness. In the port.


boys with backs that’ll break you apart

photograph of a city at night taken from a plane

iii: You were so cold, he said, that day I saw you. I lay on a mattress on the floor, and watched him dance like a miracle. Taut black back, tattooed and twisting. Hips swiveling.

iv: Speeding through a morning’s dark, sharing sugary coffee. Toward the water we were always hurtling. Hurling ourselves. For  waves. For fish. For life. For the stars. To the stars we span.

v. Surprise visits and soft-lipped kisses from another lautan asmara. Milky chance I stole her dance. Just a boy to go bump in the night with.







my god you were beautiful that day

The ocean with silhouettes of surfers bobbing around

sunlight clicks through the gums that rattle in the wind, and the river shivers at the chill that turns and drops in the afternoon. And so, we run and we rush towards the sea, to the water, which, glinting like an over-exposed photo, too much light, too much light my friend, makes us wobble with joy. And the men glowing black and silhouetted in the sun pound the waves in the water there.


The swell is small and fat. No-one’s heading out except those who don’t know any better, yet. The rest of us lay low. Waiting. Itching. Villagers slake the dust on the road but it kicks up its heels in the back of our throats. And it dances. In the light. And settles on the skin of impossibly thinnnnn brown bodies jutting out of colourful sarongs. Bakso, martabak, terang bulan. Riding pillion up a mountain. A long-lost but welcome cold. Stopped by a downpour and a sore, numb butt. Soft kisses on my forehead. Chanting rises up, and floats over the village, as I sit on a porch in a blackout. Smothered by the heat and the stars that are prickling by the ripple of a waxing crescent moon. Mosquito fogging. Spicy corn on the cob. The swell kicks in as it does. And we dance. Along the waves. Under the sun. And they glisten. And they sparkle. All perfection.

Under a bloody moon

Boat slides up on the sand (as it does); a smooth and slick fat tide, a knife through butter, a prow through water, sand crunching. Boards stacked, legs leap, bodies hunch. Eyes peer out into the night, as we fly under the sky, across the sea, through the stars, towards the waves, that will loom. And that will carry us, carry us, carry us to shore, in the dark of night. Into the warm, inky water we slither, quiet. All legs and arms a gangle. And hustle, muscle, tussle on our way, towards the waves, peeling through the night. Not a crowd, nor a light, save the moon, in sight.