The Butcher’s Apprentice, 1911–1914

By Adam Kirsch Adam Kirsch
The Butcher’s Apprentice, 1911–1914 by August Sander
The high white collar and the bowler hat,
The black coat of respectability,
The starched cuff and the brandished cigarette
Are what he has decided we will see,
Though in the closet hangs an apron flecked
With bits of  brain beside the rubber boots
Stained brown from wading through the bloody slick
That by the end of every workday coats
The killing floor he stands on. He declines
To illustrate as in a children’s book
The work he does, although it will define
Him every time the photograph he took
Is shown and captioned for posterity —
Even as his proud eyes and carriage say
That what he is is not what he would be,
In a just world where no one had to slay.

Source: Poetry (April 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2013
 Adam  Kirsch


Adam Kirsch’s The Modern Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry (2008) is published by W.W. Norton. His second collection of poems is Invasions (Ivan R. Dee, 2008).

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Jobs & Working, Social Commentaries, Class

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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