Thursday, December 21, 2017

‘Good will’ to . . . ? Well, it depends

Inhumane – and un-Christian – behavior keeps recycling, no matter the season. Today's trumpeted “good will toward men[sic]” wording is apparently literal, applying only to humans, if they’re lucky. And, as usual, too bad about animals.

Consider “Stormy” the cow a week or so ago, when it was bitter cold outside.  Stormy was part of a live manger scene at a church in Philadelphia. (If you thought that idea had arisen and been shot down years ago, you’re right. But cruel ideas keep coming back – this time, for “Christians” to put into practice again.)

Because Stormy apparently didn't like being an involuntary part of a nativity tableau (or the cold), she “escaped.” Police rounded her up around 2 am on route I-95, and returned her to her command-performance site. (Did any officer mention the, well, inhumanity of a live manger scene?)

But Stormy’s story didn’t end there.  She escaped again, this time to be captured in a parking garage. (Hello, church people! Aren’t you beginning to wonder about the wisdom of your ways?)  Stormy’s acting career ended as she was returned to the farm she had come from. Way to go, girl! 

                                                       Turlakova 2--Shutterstock
Concluding this tale of human callousness, I’d bet the ranch there was no human baby, or human of any age, in that live manger scene at 4th & Race Streets, forced to weather the weather.  So, if a church calling itself  “Christian” is so inhumane (and un-Christian, I also believe) as to leave a live animal outside for display on a bitter cold night, then I (NOT calling myself “Christian”) have no qualms about thoroughly enjoying the image below.  

Holiday kitty care
The images may be cute, but the chances of CATatrosphe are high. Here’s some good advice for keeping cats calm during the holiday season. 

                                                                          Brooke Goldman image

A Prayer to Talk to Animals

by Nikole Brown

Lord, I ain’t asking to be the Beastmaster
gym-ripped in a jungle loincloth
or a Doctor Dolittle or even the expensive vet
down the street, that stethoscoped redhead,
her diamond ring big as a Cracker Jack toy.
All I want is for you to help me flip
off this lightbox and its scroll of dread, to rip
a tiny tear between this world and that, a slit
in the veil, Lord, one of those old-fashioned peeping
keyholes through which I can press my dumb
lips and speak. If you will, Lord, make me the teeth
hot in the mouth of a raccoon scraping
the junk I scraped from last night’s plates,
make me the blue eye of that young crow cocked to
me—too selfish to even look up from the black
of my damn phone. Oh, forgive me, Lord,
how human I’ve become, busy clicking
what I like, busy pushing
my cuticles back and back to expose
all ten pale, useless moons.  Would you let me
tell your creatures how sorry
I am, let them know exactly
what we’ve done? Am I not an animal
too? If so, Lord, make me one again.
Give me back my dirty claws and blood-warm
horns, braid back those long-
frayed endings of every nerve tingling
with all I thought I had to do today.
Fork my tongue, Lord. There is a sorrow on the air
I taste but cannot name. I want to open
my mouth and know the exact
flavor of what’s to come, I want to open
my mouth and sound a language
that calls all language home.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Final protest: just the start of the fight

The slaughter continues.  Not terrible enough to begin with, New Jersey’s black bear hunt has been extended through this Saturday.  That calls for the biggest protest yet – and with advance notice of a couple days, here are the specifics. 

Please attend.  Please protest.  Please join the growing movement against the Division of Fish and Wildlife – otherwise known as “the DFW hunting club masquerading as a state agency.”  

 We will NOT be silent as the Division of Fish and Wildlife extends the bear hunt! (Dec. 13th - 16th)


WE will NOT be silent while DFW allows trophy hunters to slaughter even MORE bears, including mothers and their cubs!

We will NOT be silent as the DFW lies about public safety. This hunt is nothing but a bait and shoot trophy hunt.

Please continue to BE THEIR VOICE and attend our last protest of the year.

Saturday, December 16, 2017: 11 AM - 1 PM

Whittingham Wildlife Management Area, 150 Fredon Springdale Road, Fredon, New Jersey.
MAP  Park in area behind protesters.

Please dress for cold weather. 
For more info: 973-513-3219;;

Thank you to more than 100 protesters who came out on December 9th in the snow and frigid temperature. Thank you our special guests Lynda Smith (former Bear Group director and founder) and Brian Hackett (HSUS state director) who gave inspiring talks to the crowd.

The Bear Group will continue to work toward permanent black bear protection, but a coalition is forming to get rid of the DFW hunting club masquerading as a state agency. They extended the hunt, we expanded our mission.  More to report in 2018.

Bear Education And Resource Group

Animal Protection League of New Jersey


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Need rose-colored glasses to evaluate 2017 for animals?

“Only 17 bears killed Tuesday means hunt could be extended,” read the local headline earlier this week. Was I the only one who found that wording coldly ambiguous?  Not enough dead bears, it seemed to imply, while the reason for killing any bears is questionable at best.

We'll just have to hope our governor-elect presides over much better times for bears, starting next month.

From Africa come two unhappy stories about animals in jeopardy.  First, there’s a column about the continuing plight of elephants, raising the key question, Why can’t we protect elephants? Read it and weep.

The second horror story deals with ape-trafficking, which has “captured or killed tens of thousands of apes” to be sold as “pets” or to “unscrupulous” zoos and collectors, or to be used for mindless “entertainment.”  (Infant orangutans boxing one another: what fun, huh?)

Phew!  I feel like “Ms. Bad News” here, even though, in fact, it has not been an all-bad year for animals. Only remember: this was the year when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus finally folded. The jubilation following that belated good deed – and the banning by various states and cities of elephants in traveling shows -- helped signal the inevitable end of wild animals in circuses.

There was still more positive action for animals in 2017 on both the national and international fronts. Some retailers and brands – Gucci to Wrangler, Nautica to Burlington – went fur-free. Chimpanzees exiled to Liberia after their use in medical research by the New York Blood Center were assured the decades of care they more than earned. And numerous groups and individuals pitched in to rescue animals caught in this year’s horrific wild fires and hurricanes.  

(The next post will highlight some of this year’s “wins” for animals in New Jersey.  Readers, please  contribute your ideas on achievements-for-animals here!)  

As for good news now in the works, think Senator Linda Greenstein’s bill, S3019, to reform this state’s animal shelters. What a gift that would be to innumerable animals, far into the future. 

To see what the bill is all about, go to, enter the bill number at the top right, then click on that number in red and read on.  Here’s a recent summary from the NJ Animal Observer: “The bill requires shelters take serious steps to save lives, treat animals humanely, be transparent, and be inspected regularly. . . .”

Want to show your support for this bill? Attend tomorrow’s hearing on S3019 by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.  It will be held at 10:30 am in Committee Room 1, on the first floor of the State House Annex, Trenton.
Two additional ways to promote Greenstein’s shelter reform bill are to email and/or phone the committee members – contact info below thanks to the Animal Observer -- to tell them you want the bill to move forward.

·          State Senator Raymond 'Ray' J. Lesniak: (908) 624-0880;
·         State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez: (856) 541-1251;
·         State Senator Joseph 'Joe' M. Kyrillos Jr.: (732) 671-3206;
·         State Senator Colin Bell: (609) 383-1388;
·         State Senator Steven V. Oroho: (973) 300-0200;

Let’s end with a surprising fact (because I never thought about it) from Modern Cat magazine. Despite the millions of pet cats in American homes today, “Cats are not native to North America.They were imported to the Americas from Europe as pest controllers in the 1750s.”  Think of it as “You’ve come a long way, Kitty!”  


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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Nearing the end of a state horror: black bear hunts

Man, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infect the whole habitable earth. . . . 
--Ambrose Bierce

There may not be a body count for the bears slaughtered during NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s tenure, but it’s a safe bet that (needlessly) dead black bears number in the thousands, thanks to this (finally) outgoing governor and his (hunting) cronies.  Bad cess to all of them. And fervent hopes that incoming governor Phil Murphy will stick to his pledge of no more bear hunts.

This month has the dubious distinction of marking the last of this term’s bear hunts, as well as the last of Christie – two causes for celebration.  Could the next administration possibly investigate and end the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s slanted stand on bears in New Jersey?

Hunters comprise such a tiny percentage of our population, yet their rabid pursuit of innocent animals is fostered in countless ways and often with peripheral tragedy besides – first, the family dog in New Jersey, then the woman in New York State: both killed by hunters this year.

And that “I thought it was a deer” excuse is insultingly way too little, way too late.

Further, these years of Christie bear hunts have been horribly costly for those fighting to end the hunts.  Person-power, time and financial outlays are only the beginning. Just play back the campaigns, mailings, billboards, protests and court costs involved.  And the meetings, brainstorming sessions, personal confrontations, letters to the editor and phone calls to the governor’s office – all in vain: bears must die and hunters must have their trophies.

2014 State House demo 
Too bad about the great majority of NJ residents who are against bear hunts, as well as the legislators who framed bills to protect both bears and people.
All of which is why the Bear Education and Resource Program ( with the Animal Protection League of NJ (  will sponsor two "Sacred Promise”  Protests this coming week. (Please see specs in the image here.)  For more info about the protests, phone 973-513-3219 or go to;

Remembering Felicette

A reader has shared a sad story about a cat in space.  It happened in 1963 that Felicette, the (unlucky) “Astrocat,” was selected from among 14 felines to stand in for humans on a space flight. Think only about lab animals today, including all of those used to test products ultimately meant for people, and realize that nothing has changed.

The cat came into it when the effects of weightlessness were unknown – so an innocent non-human animal was used to find out.  After a rigorous training program, Felicette took off on a brief flight and returned safely.  She lived for a few months after that, until she was “sadly put to sleep” so that electrodes implanted in her brain could be studied.

“Can you imagine the poor thing going through that space trip alone and feeling so scared and confused?”  the reader asked.  No.  Neither that nor being euthanized afterward for her pains.  (Oh, by the way, thanks for your involuntary suffering and death, disposable sentient creature. Easy come, easy go. . . !)


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Sunday, November 26, 2017

A holiday P.S., animal-friendly NJ legislation & more

One holiday dinner for turkeys rather than of turkeys doesn’t make a huge difference as far as the slaughter of purpose-bred animals goes.  But this 32nd annual dinner left me with a better taste in my mouth for Thanksgiving, now finally behind us for a while.  Here’s a happy story to bring to mind next time you think about this subject.  

Help for hot-car heroes

Remember last summer, when warnings and signs all over warned people not to leave pets in vehicles? Hot cars, the warnings went, heat up fatally fast, and animals left in them have no way to escape.  Occasional media stories about people who broke car windows to free heat-suffering pets led to an unhappy realization: New Jersey offers no protection for the good Samaritans who take such action to save trapped animals.

That was then.  Now, help is on the way for animal helpers, says Brian R. Hackett, NJ’s State Director, State Affairs, for the Humane Society of the US (HSUS).  He reports that legislation to protect those who rescue an animal from inhumane conditions (A3636) was passed overwhelmingly by the State Assembly, and Senator Ray Lesniak has agreed to post the bill for a committee hearing soon so it can get a Senate vote in December before the end of the session!

Passage would mean that next year those wanting to help animals trapped in hot cars can do so without looking over their shoulders and wondering what price they’ll pay.

Flee, flies!

“Trillions of Flies Can’t All Be Bad,” the headline read.  To which I replied, “Oh yes they can.” Yuk: flies. Where’s that fly-swatter?!

I find no redeeming social value in flies (or ticks or mosquitoes, for that matter), and I don’t care how well-written the story may be about the variety and fascination of these creatures. Thanks to long-time conditioning, when I think of flies, I think of public rest rooms in summer, greenhead flies on the beach and any kind of fly at any time in my kitchen. Where IS that fly-swatter?!  

But they’re animals, right?  And isn’t this blog about all animals?  Sure, but that doesn’t mean I have to like all animals or abandon my belief that “the only good fly is a dead fly.”

Elephants need much more

Protest was quick and loud recently when the Trump administration overturned a 2014 Obama ban on hunters bringing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia into the US. The government ruled that once again, elephant “trophies” – any part of the elephant, including tusks – could once more be brought back from the countries where people can shoot elephants for pleasure.  (Yes, there really are such people.)

Then, surprisingly, Trump rolled back the ruling. So, for now, the ban still holds, as does Obama’s near-total ban on the commercial trade of elephant ivory.  But before we get all excited over this turn-about, it’s important to know that trade in ivory, not trophy hunting, “is driving the catastrophic declines that continue in most elephant populations in Africa,” according to Save the Elephants – the most trustworthy source I know for credible information about elephants.

The best fight to join is stopping the widespread poaching of elephants for their tusks, the crime that fuels the trafficking and trading in ivory around the world.  I hope that many others, who love elephants and don't want a world without these great animals living safely, will donate on Tuesday to Save the Elephants via Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) in San Francisco.  Donations will be matched up to $175,000. (


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Sunday, November 19, 2017

For animals, Thanksgiving’s no holiday

Thanksgiving may be a good day for people, but there’s no doubt it’s an awful one for animals.  Maybe what’s needed is a pretty fable about a happy animal get-together, with sharing and festivating and every one enjoying the normal, natural life each was intended for . . . before Dominionism entered the world – ironically, via a so-called holy book (“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle . . .”).

Instead, what we have is a mad celebration of giving thanks for our bounty by eating animals (apparently not seen as part of that bounty). What’s wrong with this picture?  tradition?  lifestyle?  How many turkeys will die and be eaten this week?  Not only those purchased for Thanksgiving dinner, but also those given away by supermarkets and myriad organizations. And – lest we forget -- those brutalized in slaughterhouses while on their way to death!

Ugh: what a huge, sickening example of Dominionism, with people mindlessly eating turkey on this holiday just because that’s what they’ve always done. And if they were forced to think  about it, they’d probably conclude that turkeys exist for the dining pleasure of humans.

Then there are those who serve both turkey and ham for the holiday for democracy in action: an equal opportunity for turkeys and pigs to die.

It’s all just too much, including any hope of making a significant dent in this practice. What would it take?  I wish I knew. 

Unable to stop the cave man-approach to Thanksgiving and too bummed to think more about it right now, I’ll change the subject to . . . butterflies! Last summer as I waxed rhapsodic about Monarchs and milkweed, one of the many things I didn’t witness and couldn’t imagine was, how do butterflies “hatch.”  Well, here’s how, with thanks to the Dodo (  It’s amazing.

Sticking with good news, how about California’s new law requiring pet stores to stock only animals from shelters or rescues?  Viva California, enlightened home state of Gov. Jerry Brown, “the California car,” the Paw Project ( and innumerable other ahead-of-its- country positions. What better way to end puppy mills and kitten factories?

Since we’re on a positive roll, the city of Denver also earns plaudits for its unanimous vote to ban the needless, cruel and outlawed-elsewhere practice of declawing cats.  Every Denver city council member deserves to feel a warm, virtuous glow after doing the right thing.  

If only veterinarian associations and feline-only organizations were just as emphatically against declawing – as they ought to be – so other cities and states might join the BANwagon.    

Finally, like it or not, here’s a column by a cat-hater, explaining why she’s adamantly against felines. It’s definitely a different, if not welcome, perspective. What do you think?
And on the subject of what you think, how about the last blog post here, which I thought would prompt an avalanche of comments – but didn’t. I hope you’ll re-read it and have a say.

Happy animal flesh-free Thanksgiving, everyone!


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Sunday, November 12, 2017

The question that won’t go away

My last post opened with “Remember the ladies,” a quote from an appeal for powerless women more than three centuries ago. Now I’m saying, “Join the ladies” -- or better yet, “Join the women who seem to significantly outnumber men in the animal advocacy field.”

Although a much longer sentence, it comes down to this: are men as scarce as they seem to be in animal welfare endeavors?  Oh sure, men head up both the national HSUS and ASPCA organizations, as well as NJ’s state chapter . . . .

But by and large in my experience and observation, women are the real doers at virtually all levels. Think Angi Metler and Janine Motta, executive director and programs director of the Animal Protection League of NJ, our Jersey-born statewide organization. Both undisputed leaders, they’re also down in the trenches, working every day for animals, and have been doing so for years.

Now think of rescue groups you know and count how many men are regularly involved, doing the scut work as well as the higher-profile stuff. 

Where are the men?  Why are they in the minority?  Why aren’t they equally involved in animal welfare -- doing the same thing, in numbers, that women all over seem to be doing : cleaning cages, transporting, fostering, writing letters, demonstrating . . . ?!

Years ago, the reason for their absence could have been that men work, supporting families, etc., but, hello! women also fill the workforce.  Could the reason be the old stereotype about women being more nurturing and more interested in relationships than in visibility and power (long assumed to be men’s goals)? 

Why are men in animal advocacy the exceptions, rather than the rule?

Could they feel that hands-on work for animals is a low-status role?  (Think too of home health-care aides.)  And/or, animal welfare can have to do with reading and expressing feelings, and downright dirty work -- cleaning cages comes to mind.  It has to do with building cooperative relationships, then nurturing them -- an area usually connected with women, although in this case, I think the stereotype is more correct than not.

Further, at least before they're career-secure, men seem to need to be competitive, to at least talk money and manipulation.  Of the few men I've encountered in the animal welfare field, most are mature men who have already proven themselves in the "real world" or they were anomalies in animal welfare who made early progress and achieved executive positions there.

Yes, I know there are other ways that men advocate for animals.  Just think: Peter Singer and the numerous writers since who have followed in his Animal Liberation footsteps.  Overall, men seem to publish more about animals in mainstream media than women do. They also seem to do more public speaking and be more often quoted on the subject too.

This issue calls for readers’ impressions and comments. Are men in fact the minority of those working on the front lines for animals? And if so, why? And longer range, should and can men be enlisted to join this cause?

Men, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably involved and fighting the good fight for animals. Why?  How did you get involved? And how can more men be recruited?

 (If you read my blog posts on ,you can comment right here.  If you subscribe to this blog, simply click where indicated at the bottom of this post and comment. “Anonymous” is an OK way to do it when you’re asked to ID yourself.  I’m after informative comments, not names!)

And this reminder

 November is adopt a senior cat month.  (But don’t stop there! Consider bringing a homeless animal home with you for the happy holiday season – and forever after.)


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Saturday, November 4, 2017

‘Remember the ladies’ . . . in animal advocacy!

NYC carriage horse  
The often-repeated quote “Remember the ladies” was part of a plea by Abigail Adams to her husband John, who later became the second president of the US.  She encouraged him to recognize women as more than property and protect them from the power men held over them.  That was in the late 18th century.

By a century later – while still lacking the right to vote -- Philadelphia women took the lead in establishing the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  (PSPCA).  Although brutally mistreated carriage horses were the initial targets for their compassion, abandoned dogs quickly became a focus of the women’s attention and initiatives.

They successfully petitioned for the founding of the Shelter for Dogs and Other Animals, aiming to reunite pets with their owners or find them new homes.  In effect, this was the start of an adoption program.

Other reforms followed: establishment of basic shelter standards, provision of drinking fountains around the city, programs for sick or injured cats, veterinary care for dogs and farm animals, and many more.

This whole story is detailed, inspiringly, in the summer ’17 issue of AnimalSheltering magazine. For far different reasons than Abigail's, remember these ladies too!

And recognize one contemporary woman whose efforts are directed at improving the lives (and
sometimes no doubt saving them as well) for shelter animals in this state:  NJ Senator Linda R. Greenstein (District 14).  Introduced last February, her bill (S3019) is “still an active bill—it hasn’t been heard in committee yet,” an aide reports.  She adds, “If the bill doesn’t get heard by the first week in January, it will be re-introduced with a new bill number after the second Tuesday of January 2018.”

This is an ideal time for all of us to react to the bill with suggestions and corrections that Greenstein’s staff can note for future use; watch for news of the bill’s resurfacing; and volunteer to help build support for its move through the legislature.   

and FORGET this lady

On Tuesday we will elect a new governor of NJ. It’s our chance to throw out the party and the people who permitted years of black bear hunts here, among other grievous instances of cruelty toward animals.  Here’s what the League of Humane Voters ( has to say about the incumbent and his would-be successors:
2014 anti-hunt demo 
Our wildlife has suffered enormously under Governor Chris Christie. The Christie Administration allowed the Fish and Game Council to brazenly breach New Jersey’s landmark law banning bone-crushing steel-jaw leghold traps. As a candidate, Chris Christie promised hunters a black bear hunt. Tragically, he delivered, each and every year. 

If possible, the bear hunt got even worse when the game council added terribly cruel bows and arrows to hunters’ arsenal. Under Governor Christie (and Democrat Senate President Stephen Sweeney), deregulation is rampant and wildlife protection bills are routinely blocked and denied committee and floor votes.

. . . be aware that Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno has frequently pledged her support for hunters and trappers. She has publicly pledged continued black bear hunts.

In contrast, Democratic candidate for governor Phil Murphy promises to end the bear hunt and to restore New Jersey’s law banning leghold traps. 

                                                                                               APLNJ image

Halt horrendous, horrific black bear hunts in NJ.  Vote (early and often) for Murphy!


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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Horses know human cruelty all too well

The first time we visited San Francisco, I drove the nearly 50-mile route around the city, and that was fine . . . until we suddenly found ourselves perched at the top of a hill such as I had never driven down before (and rarely even looked down!). Way, way steep.  Frightening.  With  nothing to do but . . . proceed. 

Well, obviously, we made it. And since then, that hill has been my benchmark for challenging driving.

Now, imagine you’re a horse, given the task of pulling cars full of people up and down such hills: a cruelly difficult thing to do.  In another graphic case of Dominionism, humans had decided this was a job for horses – a job that came with slips, accidents and brutal beatings. As if horses were created or designed to pull people up and down hills.  

(Ooops! nearly forgot the horses still forced to pull carriages full of tourists around New York City, Philadelphia and other places.)

Only years later, I learned from The Writer’s Almanac that in 1869, those suffering horses were noticed by at least one compassionate human, who had a better idea. 

Andrew Smith Hallidie was an English ex-pat who “saw a team of horses struggling to pull a horse-drawn car up a steep, slippery cobblestone street. The horses were being brutally whipped, but to no avail: they lost their footing, fell, and were fatally dragged by the car as it raced down the hill.”

Hallidie’s father held a patent for a “wire rope” cable, which Hallidie the younger teamed with a steam engine and a cable to get a car up those hills. In September 1873, soon after he formed the Clay Street Hill Railroad, the cable car became operational.

Any chance the horses linked to the old system were set free in green pastures?  (Guffaw!)

                                                                               HSI pic
So that was the 19th century. Now go back to the Middle Ages – or so it would seem – for a barbaric practice of entertaining (so-called) humans by torturing and killing horses.  Now, in the 21st century, the Humane Society International is fighting a tradition in Mexico that should have died centuries ago. As HSI/Mexico reports it:

Torneo del Lazo is a gruesome event that takes place throughout the year in various Yucat√°n municipalities in Mexico. During the events, cowboys ride horses being chased by one or more bulls in enclosed arenas. Once they catch the horses, the bulls severely wound them–often times gouging the animals–leading to the horses' slow and painful deaths. The crowd erupts in cheers.

Finally, a beautiful, impressionistic poem about the death of a beloved family horse.  (Yes, this has been a sad post. But sad happens.)

Narrow Flame
by Linda Gregerson

Sun at the zenith. Greening
  Slight buckling of the left

 hind leg. And all this while
            the girl
  at his ear 
good boy and now

 the hip giving way and mildly as
            was ever
  his wont the lovely

 heft of him lists toward the field
            that minutes
  ago was still so sweet for

 grazing and good boy and on the
  now where the frightening

 last shudder of lungs that we’ve been
            warned about
  does thank you darling does

 not come and feeling for a pulse
            no pulse
  and warning us touching

 the liquid eye which does not
            close which
  means the slender needle with

 its toxic everlastingness has done
            its job
  good boy unbuckling the

 halter lifting the beautiful head
            to her
  lap and all this while the girl


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