Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Poem: The Great Tradition

On 12/10/2010 I was asked to play MC Angel's excellent night Lyrically Challenged at Passing Clouds (second Tuesday of every month, don't miss out). Every month there is a new lyrical challenge, and the two main featured artists have to write a poem or a song about a topic. Angel picked the topic of 'human's relationships with animals'. Being a twat, I went on an ill advised poetic rant about animals. And here it is:


Saturday night:

Drunk, staggering from the pub

strangled bumbled conversations

are nearly overpowered by belly rumbles.

Entranced like sailors to rocks by sirens

we make our way to the blinding, spilt light

and the twisting steam of the kebab shop.

The sweaty meat is spun, sliced,

bunched in pitta, wet salad and fists

and greedily shoved down.

Sunday morning:

Waking up hungover...

the remains of kebab grease

still smeared on our chins

we tuck into a full English:

sausage, bacon, black pudding

half-drowned in bloody oil.

Late Sunday afternoon:

Mum carves roast lamb in dripping,

dishes up pigs in blankets of more pigs,

potatoes oven cooked in goose fat,

half-drowned in beef gravy.

Great, stout, hearty traditional British food.


By traditional, what we really mean is:

an accepted form of behaviour

so ingrained in society, culture

and near-mythological belief

that we don't actually have to think

for a fucking minute about the impact

or the ethical implications of what we're doing.

Tradition is a detachment,

catching our reason in cement

leading to confused, hypocritical views.

Such as:

we love and care for dogs and cats

but eating them is out of the question.

Yet at the same time we take kids

around family farms, cooing at loveable pigs

and lowing cows

that we're quite happy to chow down.

Appropriating different values to different species

defined entirely by the grind of human lives.

That is anthropocentrism.

And this is speciesism:

the prejudice against those of a different species

ceasing in the belief that they

feel pain, comfort or happiness

on their own terms.

Listen and learn:

there is a small step from treating

other animals like this

to assigning different emotional, psychological

and physical attributes

to peoples from different nations and cultures.

It is the same thought process

that allows white supremacists to refer afro-carribeans as “monkeys”.

The same thought process that

allowed the Japanese military in the early twentiest century

to refer the Chinese as “logs” and cut them down accordingly.

The same thought process

that allowed guards in Guantanamo Bay to piss on, beat

and electrocute anyone who looked vaugely Middle Eastern.

The same thought process that

allowed the Holocaust,

the Rwandan genocide

and all the other millions, billions

of corpses piled up in the dark cranial recesses

of those who oppressed and killed others

on the basis of the colour of their skin

or where they're from.

Our treatment of fellow bipedal primates

in the Hominidae family

(aka, homo sapiens or humans)

is connected by

self-repression and self-denial

to the killing of other animals,

whether it be for profit or sport.

This is no guilt trip.

All I'm asking you to do is

examine your ethical codes and priorities.

Have you chosen them?

Or are they part of an unconscious ritual

which is simply accepted and never questioned?

Your choices are your own.

Just make sure they're yours.

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