I do it in reverse.
I rip their hearts out first
then remove their clothes.
Whether filthy or untouched

I pile them in columns and rows.
I snap their spines.
(I spare a few chosen ones—
an indispensable classic,

a specialist interest slim,
someone’s quirky project—my selection
I work through long lists.

I arrange their remains
in stacks of similar build
for others more expert than me
to band together.

They load them onto trucks,
transport them to pulping camps.
There are fumes of labour and thought,
rivers of ink.

I execute so many
a broth of soot and blood
starts to ooze from beneath my fingernails.
And still I lay them in heaps.

Lamenting their loss is not my job.
Come five o’clock
I wash winedark clots off my hands
and make tea.