Des de Moor

Animals Aren't Human
Water of Europe Performance Poems 1996
In 1996 I did a number of gigs as a performance poet and have occassionally included poetry in my set since then.
Des de Moor

Such is the sentiment about these matters that this poem, written in a very stereotypical contemporary performance poem style with a combination of humour and a 'message', has proved to be the most controversial thing I do, dividing an audience between supportive cheers and hostile hisses, far more so than anything involving human beings.
Animals aren't human:
They can't talk or work or write,
They haven't cultivated wheat
Or launched a satellite.
There is no simian Shakespeare
Or gastropod van Gogh
And if there's a porcine Plato
He's still grubbing in his trough.
I doubt a Hawking hides among
The haddock and the huss
And if dolphins are so clever
Why aren't they in charge, not us?

Animals aren't human.
I once went to the zoo.
I saw a big gorilla,
Looked a bit like me or you:
Round ears, four fingers and a thumb
And roughly the same size
But when he caught my gaze I saw
Just vacant dull brown eyes.
No vital spark, no words, no smiles,
Just burly bulk and brain
As he turned and puked his dinner up
And scoffed it down again.

Animals aren't human.
I don't think calves should live in boxes,
I don't pull the legs off spiders
Or set packs of dogs on foxes
But if it was my lover's life
Some piggy's parts could save
I'd put the person first
And send the piggy to its grave.
You may think I'm being heartless,
You may think you disagree.
But I'm sure that if it came to it
You'd feel the same as me.
Or on their dying breaths
You'd have to look them in the eye
And say "It was you or Porky, darling
And I chose the pig. Bye-bye."

Animals aren't human
But try to point that out
To some supposedly bright people:
They will rant and rave and shout
With their stickers at the ready,
Guilty conscience ripe for scourging
And rationality in retreat
And sentiment full surging.
They will cite the crimes of Hitler
Then name your crimes more dire
Then they'll go and mailbomb scientists
And set their labs on fire.

Animals aren't human
But they sure bring out the beast in some of us.

Written: Deptford, London, June 1996

Des de Moor
© Copyright Des de Moor 1996


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