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September 4, 2019 Poetry

Cultured Meat Pastoral

Lucian Mattison

Cultured Meat Pastoral photo

Goats and cows’ dreams have little pull yet. Cheese
is still cheese, piston driven milkers likely painful. The future
of sirloin strips it of skin, legs, bones, grown without 

the cortex of overcast blanketing cow consciousness. 
Michelin stars will be reserved for those meals sporting limbic
systems, pain, rich diets—enough with the classism already
the elite restaurant in the country: rusted windmill 

atop stack stone, stag rack looms over dark leather, rills 
of watery blood flood the soil around the abattoir just beyond 
sniffing distance. Even holding the boning knife, I identify 

with meat cow, a future of massage and organic feed,
head on the chopping block after so many years heart healthy,
conscience lighter than droplets perched on the bristles
of melon vine. I look out the kitchen window at the coop.

The chickens are so dumb. They dream of dirt
or of nothing at all, steep nightly in complete darkness. 
A few of them keep cannibalizing their own eggs. The farmer 

Instructs to replace them with golf balls so with each peck
at the dimples the hens learn to stop making shitty choices.
I ask the farmer to consider the nugget of lab grown breast 
in a drive-thru, cleaner, friendlier option. Like with hens, 

progress is mostly about making the best decision the least
amount of work or just plain deceiving the public until it’s done. 
The slaughter is artisanal. Boutique a strangled calf.

When it suits the market, we’ll remove the brain stem
from food, guilt from consumption. We’ll give the cartoon T-bone 
steak on the label eyes with which to wink at us. A playful way
to stop cannibalizing our world. But only when it suits us.


image: Kristin Chen