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Saturday, February 14, 2009


by David Chorlton

A pig is burning. It happens
thousands of times. The exercise is
to keep it alive as if
it were a man. But fire hurts
too much to use it on anyone
with the power of speech to describe
what they feel. A squeal doesn’t count.
A pig can’t salute
or say no. A pig doesn’t know
why it has to go through
the ordeal. It can’t tell a terrorist
from the man who comes to feed it.

Before anybody knows who the enemy is
the goats are enlisted to graze
on the battlefield where
they are wounded and drugged
just enough to be still
while young recruits practice
removing a limb
while the earth spins
into the space where the sky used to be.

A vervet monkey has no country
other than the one from which
it is taken when chosen
to be a nerve gas victim so
a soldier being trained to kill
may be trained as well to try
keeping it alive
when its heart slows and its bowels melt
and if the monkey lives it will
be on a battlefield again until
there’s nothing can be done
except dispose of the remains
after a simulated war
in which only its pain was real.

David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix for 30 years and come to love the desert around it. He recently won the Ronald Wardall Award from Rain Mountain Press for The Lost River, a chapbook whose contents reflect his unease with what is happening to our planet. More of his work, including paintings, is at his Web site.

Editor's note: For information on the U.S. military's experiments on animals, visit In Defense of Animals.