The Challenge

The Challenge

As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that “might is right.”

 Isaac Bashevis Singer Enemies: A Love Story 

Meat eating is the most frequent way we interact with animals.

Carol J. Adams – The Sexual Politics of Meat

Screams, whites of eyes,
blood geysers, plasma flowers
bloom on slaughterhouse walls,
hell’s carnage and crimson profits pool
on cement floors, fill sewer lines, sop soil,
spill over trawlers’ decks, staining oceans
heme red as gaping mouths open, shut, open—
gasping, gurgling.
Everywhere headless bodies thrash—
flipping, jerking, spilling guts…

If you are what you eat, then what was I?
I asked myself and confessed,pure savagery
even though I paid others to do my dirty work,
to enslave, rape, betray kidnap, torment, murder—
my body made of corpses, who’d had every right
to live, to life, corpses on whom I fed my
base off-base needless tastes as there is no
requirement to eat them, the innocent, who
suffer horrific deeds to be forked over
meal after meal. Here’s a partial list
of the trillions killed per annum:

cattle, bolts shot into their brains, hanging
upside down, throats sliced open, bled with
hearts still pumping, choking on bubbling
blood, legs jugging;
hooked fish, lips ripped, cerebrums punctured by
barbs or caught in vast drag nets—drawn up,
flopping anguish, desperate, drowning in air;
amputated pigs squealing in pain, their tails docked and
teeth ground down without anesthesia to raw nerve endings,
packed in pens and confined in small metal crates on
filthy, damp concrete slabs, depressed, unable
to nuzzle and comfort their nursing young;
sick chickens de-beaked with hot irons, covered in
feces, bred with grotesque breasts that topple them over
into suffocating shit, and eggs from layers, dropping
embryos into the stench of foul sheds—the newborn
roosters, useless to the industry slide cheeping
into whirring blades, pureed alive—
or die slowly, suffocating in plastic bags;

kidnapped calves’ and kids’ milk sucked out for us,
the most dangerous species, by machines from grieving
mothers—bellowing, bleating—frantic, slaves, calling
their young, stolen almost moment they’re born, who
come of semen guns men thrust deep, up to their elbows,
into terrified cows, ewes, does, impregnating them in
rape racks—again and again, molested until they
can bear no more,
until their uteri drop out, drag on fecal-smeared
floors, then their exhausted bodies sold for meat,
having delivered too many babies. The
daughters slated, too, for sexual assaults,
and young sons—bull calves and kids—
who missing their moms, suckle
their killers’ fingers on their way
to slaughter, little ones once eaten by
me and currently by most of mine,
probably by you and yours as veal and
lamb with cabernet and mint sauce—
fine dining by candlelight.

Whom did I become?
I rejected this abject cruelty, and here’s
what happened. I thrive not eating finned,
furred, shelled, and feathered kin, their
unborn and babies’ milk.
(And no more grooming and clothing
me with products from and tested on
them, as well.)

Vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruits
and roots, flowers and grains now
nourish my heart and my body—
ten years for total cell regeneration.
With every bite and purchase, I push
back against our most vile, racist,
debacle—wasting lives of animals,
whom we deem unequal.

I resolved myself into a plot in
which I grow compassion—her
flowers: white jasmine, holy basil,
peonies and chamomile. With plants,
I purged the holocausts supplied by
small farms and industrial, starved
the pathology from myself, day after
day, but not the memory of
my long ignorance and sin—
disgust that holds.

Atoning, reborn, reformed,
conscious, ashamed, heartbroken,
whole-foods wholly flora-fed, this body
moved on, crossed into a meta state beyond
the human species, remade with plants as i
neither a greater nor a lesser being, but
a different matter—
the i who hears animals’ unfettered terror,
feels their agony and grief, imagines them dying
as human hands rip out, off, from what is not
ours to take for palate pleasure, fashion,
military training, cosmetics, blood
sports, home décor, car seats—
all vanity, all the while
destroying the planet

Now, knowing this, what will you do?