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Dog Eat Dog
I. Dreams After Eating A Large Meal
Cannibals exist in all species,
even primates. Chimpanzees,
long thought to be peaceful vegetarians,
love to hunt. Male chimps will kill
newborns from their own troupe
if they suspect the mother
to have consorted with outsiders.
They kill the infant
with a bite to the skull,
then tear it apart, sharing the flesh
with each other. I watched a mother chimp
chasing the males who had grabbed
her baby. She followed
at a slight distance, screaming
from the trees, shaking the branches,
filled with rage but lacking the large
canine fangs of her brothers.
When she was on the verge
of attack, the males would dangle
her infant by one limb, threatening
to drop it 25 feet to the ground.
She backed off, howling
with frustration. In the end,
she gave up. The males sat
and watched, then consumed the flesh
of her offspring. It was the soft
pink of milk-fed veal, so tender,
so sweet — they napped heavily
all afternoon, dreamed vague dreams
involving slim saplings, bent
under their weight, about to snap.
II. Fighting Biology
Every human law is an effort
to curb natural instincts.
When people kill, it is for reasons
they cannot articulate. Come to me,
they hear the victim say. Take me
into yourself and make us both
whole. Much of the time, the message
is obeyed — one wrong look
can end a life. The rule of nature,
what has this to do with love?
III. Brighter Colors, More Vivid Patterns
For scorpions, 25% of their diet
consists of other, smaller scorpions.
Frogs in South America will eat anything
smaller than themselves… though sometimes
they try to swallow another frog,
larger than themselves. Rather than give
up, they both die of suffocation.
Father fish, guarding their eggs, will eat
part of the clutch rather than leave
the eggs unattended to find food.
It is too dangerous to leave the family,
it’s better to sacrifice
a few members to save the whole.
IV. Protein Is Precious
Mother mice, when their nest is found
by a predator, will kill & consume
as much of their litter as they can hold,
recycling precious protein
they’ve spent weeks gathering.
We all want to survive.
Some of us want to survive by eating others.
Some of us want to survive by consuming
air alone. I wanted to survive
without hurting anyone — I thought
it was possible, to take less, to give more.
V. Hunger, Touch, Satisfaction
I’m so hungry. All I can think of is food,
all different kinds. Bowls and bowls
of cereal, popcorn, rice, couscous.
Buckets of slop for the bovine.
Is it really spring outside? Has the mating
dance begun again? Do you love
to curl your hair? Do you long for ringlets,
shiny tresses? Do you want your hair
to touch someone? Do you want to consume
the most tender parts, leaving the rest
for scavengers? Do you understand
what sort of need you are satisfying?