we assign human-like qualities
to the menagerie in cages

gaze with sympathy at the bear
who nuzzles her face to the wall
when visitors come around

tell the monkey how unreasonable
to chase away the paying public
by throwing such a mess

question how it is we failed to trick
the cheetahs into mating in captivity

and wonder what our humanity has done for us
when the tiger finally kills the keeper




◄ mirrors

transitions ►


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Fri 19th Apr 2019 19:55

Thanks Jane, Ray, David, and Graham (that's like a phonics lesson, those names all arranged in such a way). Your comments are much appreciated. There's quite a bit to address within them, I'm only sorry that I've been so busy that I haven't been able to come up with an intelligible response.

We're all animals, fer sher, it simply seems that we humans are the only animals capable of thinking ourselves into oblivion--why oh why were we cursed with these damned thumbs?


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Graham Sherwood

Sun 14th Apr 2019 10:29

I am minded to compare your observations about captive animals to that of those humans, stupid enough to go on expensive safari holidays. They spend their time caged into an observation truck amongst the fierce animals, who rather give them the same ambivalent glances that caged animals receive from visitors. The original human zoo I think!

Good piece judging by all the comments too. Well done.

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Wolfgar Miere

Sun 14th Apr 2019 08:01

Hi Rachel,

I like this questioning piece.

You have chosen a subject to write about which will most likely draw comments about it rather than the written text.

It is a difficult one, because the subject overpowers the poetry. I am often guilty of approaching a piece of writing in that way. In cases like this is it enough that the poem provokes debate about the subject, or does it still require true value of its own? I always try to remember to say something about the work even if only that I like it.

I try to remain conscious that we humans are really animals too, that there is a hierarchical structure in nature whether we like it or not. I would never condone cruelty to any animal and on balance would prefer to free one than cage one. I can't really say more than that because it's a minefield of ethics.

My greatest ever interaction with the animal kingdom was in the DR Congo where I was lucky enough to visit the "Lola ya Bonobo Project" a truly amazing place which rescues, rears and cares for orphaned and adult Bonobos. Often the orphans are as a result of adult Bonobos being killed for bushmeat.

The orphans are assigned human Mothers who bottle feed them in nurseries specifically set up for that practice. I say this as you alluded to human-like qualities being attributed to animals, in this case it was so evidently so. The attachment they formed was incredible, both primate and human.

Anyway I ramble! Yes, we need to pay attention to the animal kingdom and treat it in a manner which interferes as little as possible. Remembering also that we are part of the natural world and should act naturally within it.


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Sat 13th Apr 2019 21:24

Sadly the curiosity we feel for other species often leads to forms of entertainment based our own limited views of what we know about ourselves. A no brainer all round . We are far better off just domesticating animals, or of course eating them. The instinct of humans is to fear or control after all. I am not trying to denigrate those who devote their lives sincerely to understanding of course.

A very fine piece of work Rachel.


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Jane Briganti

Sat 13th Apr 2019 16:17

Sadly, by the time people realize and accept the intellect and emotional depth of all those in the animal kingdom it will be TOO late! A thought provoking piece...well done!

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Fri 12th Apr 2019 08:47

Dorothy, I recall hearing a radio show host describe a listener's dismay at her domestic feline's behavior, saying that whenever she let her cat out of its cage, he would go wild--I have to ask, who is really more intelligent?



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Dorothy Webb

Fri 12th Apr 2019 08:13

The more I see of animals the more I respect them.

The brainless chicken - is not brainless
the silly sheep - is not silly
Dogs like being dogs - being dressed up and pampered is humillating to them.

we jump to conclussions without watching and learning.

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Fri 12th Apr 2019 07:41

...a trait that I would never assign to an animal, Brian. I feel we should even be careful when generalizing human behavior in such ways.

Thanks for looking in,


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Brian Maryon

Fri 12th Apr 2019 07:33

Biting the hand that feeds us...a human trait also

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Fri 12th Apr 2019 07:21

A sort of PS, Stu...

Personally, I can't say that I've hated every moment of my bouts of insomnia--some have generated a sense of inner tension that has been, in some way, transformative.

Maybe I should say, whatever you're going through, may it be well with you.


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Fri 12th Apr 2019 07:07

That makes perfect sense, Stu. I've had moments when I actually felt like a much worse person for all the suffering I've witnessed second-hand--it must be an awful struggle for those in its midsts. Insomnia sucks--I hope you sleep well soon )

Thanks for reading, Jon--glad you liked it.


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Jon Stainsby

Fri 12th Apr 2019 06:31

This is great, Rachel. So true.

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Stu Buck

Fri 12th Apr 2019 06:26

love this rachel. black fish broke me the first time i watched it. animals in general are a hard one for me. there is so much suffering in the world i just cant focus on one thing any more. i block it all out. if you appreciated all the suffering we caused you would never have a single second to become a better person. does that make sense? its 6am and i havent slept so maybe it doesnt.

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