Small Demon
Apr 282008
 

In a comment to the previous post, Chris Robinson makes reference to a poem from my book Magical Thinking. We bear a special responsibility, greater perhaps than the responsibility we bear toward each other, to care for animals. Whichever philosopher said that we reveal our character through our treatment of those weaker than ourselves was right, I think. Here is the poem.

Abandoned Bluetick Bitch

Numbed with self-loathing,
we abandon the emissaries
of grace. Chained to a tree

beside the empty rental
she hollowed out a den
for herself & her young.

By the time we found her
the water they’d left her
was a couple of days gone.

When the water was gone
she would have slept, not dreaming,
letting the pups nurse

her sparse milk & when
the smallest died she ate it to keep
her strength & cleanse the den,

depriving coy dogs & foxes
an expedient scent.
It’s likely there were two more

before we found her.
Ribs covered by a tissue of dry skin,
she was nothing-a shadow

on the dirt & was just able
to raise her head & take
a little water from my hand

before turning to nose
her three live pups awake.
Reader, it is true, there is

horror everywhere worse
than this & cruelty that beggars
imagination, but this

is local & particular; these were
my neighbors did this,
who, without even the excuse

of psychosis, committed this wrong.
Who live in this same light
& shadow I live in.

Let us kill one another
with heedless abandon-we deserve it-
but not these poor relations

whose lives are without malice
& whose motives are transparent.
Let us kill one another.

  4 Responses to “Animal Cruelty”

  1. this is a powerful poem. edward mycue

  2. Kundera in The Unbelievable Lightness of Being? I believe he makes some point related to this but it’s been a long time since I read this book.

  3. I hadn’t read the novel when I wrote the poem, I don’t think, but yes I think there’s a connection or similarity of feeling.

  4. The Intruder

    after Jean Follain

    In the evenings they listen to the same
    tunes nobody could call happy
    somebody turns up at the edge of town
    the roses bloom
    and an old dinner bell rings once more
    under the thunder clouds
    In front of the porch posts of the store
    a man seated on a soda water case
    turns around and spits and says
    to everybody
    in his new set of clothes
    holding up his hands
    as long as I live nobody
    touches my dogs my friends

    Frank Stanford

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