The Local Butcher’s Shop

A few years ago, I came across the poem “The Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford” by British poet James Fenton (b. 1949).  I was amused by the way the poem begins:

The Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford

Is shut
22 hours a day and all day Sunday

It was the first time I had seen a poem where the title is used, in effect, as the first line.  I thought it a clever idea, and stored it mentally for possible use in my own poetry.  Some time later, I was walking past a local butcher’s shop which happened to be closing-down.  There was a notice in the window, announcing the intention to close.  As I stood there, reading the notice, I had the idea for a poem, and realised I could use the same device as Fenton had used in his poem about The Pitt-Rivers Museum.

The Local Butcher’s Shop:

. . . has ceased trading.  Ken and Karen
Would like to thank our faithful customers,
whose loyalty, over the years,
has warmed our hearts; moved us to tears.

We’ve come a long way, since first opening our doors.
Those days of blood, dripping onto sawdust floors.
We’ve lived through some good times, despite the lies
of those jealous of our prize-winning pork pies.

Butchery is, sadly, a dying trade;
not one in which a profit can still be made.
There are, these days, depressingly few
who need ingredients for a proper oxtail stew.

The very notion of succulent sweetbreads
doesn’t even enter people’s heads.
Little call, now, for dishes of sheep’s brains;
no wonder our business has been on the wane.

Needing some restful years, before we die,
we’re getting out now; our heads held high.
Independence still runs, freely, in our veins.
We could never cow-tow to those supermarket chains!



1 Comment

Filed under Poetry

One response to “The Local Butcher’s Shop

  1. the last line’s great, and I like the way you used that technique from Fenton’s poem!

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