Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Requiem for the Flightless

"They had done nothing to deserve it; and it was adding insult to injury, as the thing was done here, swinging them up in this cold-blooded, impersonal way, without a pretence at apology, without the homage of a tear. Now and then a visitor wept, to be sure; but this slaughtering-machine ran on, visitors or no visitors. It was like some horrible crime committed in a dungeon, all unseen and unheeded, buried out of sight and of memory.” 
-Upton Sinclair, The Jungle 

More than 99% of America's farm animals spend their lives confined by the sunless metal walls of factory farms, industrial operations that pump out hundreds of hormone-filled meat products while completely disregarding the brutal effects they have on both animals and the environment. The animals on factory farms, their bodies swimming with antibiotics and increasingly resistant bacteria, are separated from their families and tortured by a quality of life so low it can hardly even count as an existence. Their counterparts--the roughly 1% living on local, organic, family-run farms--are exposed to sunlight and green pastures, but they see only pain and suffering.
I wrote this short poem (or at least attempted to) about the animals forced to live on factory farms in an effort to raise awareness about the horrors of industrial agriculture. Perhaps one day we will maintain sustainable lifestyles--our refrigerators stocked with fresh, local foods that did not pollute the environment with toxic chemicals--but for now the struggle to open the public's eyes goes on.

requiem for the flightless
by frances

i wonder what they see
when they look into my eyes.  
if they see anything at all, even.  
sometimes it doesn’t seem
like they do.

life is endless iron pastures,
metal bars,

corners too dark,
too tight,
too bloody.

needles pierce flesh,
beaten until it’s raw,

names are numbers
lullabies screams
mothers, babies
ripped from their sides
thrown onto conveyer belts
going nowhere.

i can’t swallow

like i used to.
can’t walk.
can’t run.
can’t fly.
can’t see.

but i can feel.

if anything,
i can feel.

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