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everything was alive and dying

I had a dream the other night. I walked out of the city to a forest, and there were neatly paved bicycle paths and trash cans every fifty feet and trash every ten.
and then a raccoon came right up to me. she had a few little baby raccoons following her, it was so cute, I wish I had my camera.
and she spoke to me, she said, “thank you thank you for not buying furs, I know you humans are pretty smart, you have to be able to figure out a way to keep yourselves warm without killing me.”
and I said, “you know they don’t do it for warmth, they do it for fashion, they do it for power.” And she said “I know. But thank you anyway.”

Then I walked a little further and there was a stray cat. she still had her little neon collar on with a little bell. and she walked a few feet, stretched her front paws, oh, she looked so darling. and then she walked right up to me and she said “thank you.” and I said “for what?” And she just looked at me for a moment, her little ears were standing straight up, and then she said, “you know, in some countries I’m considered a delicacy.” And I said, “how do you know of these things?” And she said. “when somebody eats one of you word gets around.” and then she looked up at me again and said, “and in some countries the cow is sacred. Wouldn’t they love to see how you humans prepare them for slaughter, how you hang them upside-down and slit their throats so their still beating hearts will drain out all the blood for you?” and she said, “isn’t it funny how arbitrary your decision to eat meat is?” and I said, “don’t put me in that category, I don’t eat meat.” and she said “I know.”

And I walked deeper in to the forest; managed to get away from the picnic tables and the outhouses that lined the forest edges. the roaring cars gave way to the rustling of tree branches crackling of fallen leaves under my step.
when the wind tunneled through, the wind whistled and sang as it flew past the bark and leaves.
I walked listened to the crack of dead branches under my feet, and I felt a branch against my shoulder. I looked up and I could hear the trees speak to me, and they said “thank you for letting the endangered animals live here amongst us. we do think they’re so pretty, and it would be a shame to see them go. and thank you for recycling paper, because you’re saving us for just a little while longer.”
“we’ve been on this planet for so long, embedded in the earth. we do have souls, you know. you can hear it in our songs. we cling with our roots; we don’t want to let go.”
and I said, “but I don’t do much, I don’t do enough.” and they said “we know. but we’ll take what we can get.”

and I woke up in a sweat.

so tell me Bob Dole, so tell me Newt Gingrich, so tell me Pat Bucannan, so tell me Jesse Helms, if you woke up from that dream would you be in a sweat, too?

Do you even know why we should save the rain forest? Oh preserve the delicate balance, just tear the whole forest down, what difference does it make? Put in some orange groves so our concentrate orange juice can be a little cheaper.
did you know that medical researchers have a very, very hard time trying to come up with synthetic cures for diseases on their own? It helps them out a little if they can first find the substance in nature. A tree that appears in the rain forest may be the only one of its species. Or one like it may be two miles away, instead of right next to it. I wonder how many cures we’ve destroyed to plant more orange groves. Serves us right.

You know my motives aren’t selfless. I know that these things are worthwhile in my life.
I’d like to find a cure to these diseases before I die of them, and I’m not just a vegetarian because I think it’s wrong to kill an animal unless I have to. I also know the excess protein pulls the calcium away from my bones and gives me osteoporosis, and the excess fat gives me heart attacks, and I also know that we could be feeding ten times more people with the same resources used for meat production.
You know, I know you’re looking at me and calling me an extremist, but I’m sitting here, looking around me looking at the destruction caused by family values and thinking the right, moral, non-violent decisions are also those extreme ones.

everything is linked here. we destroy our animals so we can be wasteful and violent. we destroy our plants, we destroy our earth, we’re even destroying our air. we wreak havoc on the soil, on the atmosphere. we dump our wastes into our lakes. we pump aerosol cans and exhaust pipes.
and you tell me I’m extreme.
and these animals and forests keep calling out to me, the oceans, the wind.

and I’m beginning to think that we just keep doing it because we don’t know how to stop, and deep inside we feel the pain of all that we’ve killed, and we try to control it by popping a chemical-filled pain-killer.
we live through the guilt by taking caffeine, nicotine, or morphine, and we keep ourselves thin with saccharin, and we keep ourselves sane with our alcohol poisoning. and when that’s not enough maybe a line of coke.
maybe shoot ourselves in the head in front of the mirror in the master bedroom. or maybe just take some pills, or walk into the garage, turn on the car and just fall asleep.

in the wild you have no power over anyone else. now that we’re civilized we create our own wild.
maybe when we have all this power, the only choice we have is to destroy ourselves.
and so we do.




U.S. Government Copyright
Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
on all art and all writings on this site completed
before 6/6/04. All rights reserved. No material
may be reprinted without express permission.

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