Tics on my Conscience
By Maria Tarquinio, [email protected] 

I hold you between my forefinger and thumb,
and I know that my ethics
will soon be forsaken.
Your mighty efforts to escape my grip,
are felt as tiny tremors,
as I attempt to hold you firmly to control you,
and yet gently so as not to hurt you.

My guilt-ridden heart pounds,
as I engage in this effort to
be gentle as I take you to
the scene of your death.

"Poor Little Tony."
I hadn't planned to name you.
The name suddenly came to my mind.

Appearances matter little to me.
I believe respect, tenderness, and mercy,
should flow from me to one and all,
regardless of appearance;
and yet...

Your appearance is endearing to me.
Little brown dot, little legs moving so fast.
You remind me of a baby sea turtle.
You are trying your best to survive
in this huge universe.

Your sibling, puffed with Emily's canine blood,
doesn't have your visual appeal.
That is of no account, little roly-poly tic;
you aren't on this Earth to please my senses.

I do not oppose blood donations,
from humans, to humans.
Why then should I become murderously offended
when you are in need of a little blood?

Your plight is understood.
You are like a mute person in a strange land,
hungry and desperate.
You cannot say "please"
and you cannot say
"help me."
You do what's needed in order to survive.
You have no other options.

It isn't because occasionally
one of your kind clings
thirstily to me, that I will
murder you today.
It is in defense of the dogs in my family,
who cannot rid themselves
of your unwelcome presence.

Their skin burns where you suck their blood.
Their skin itches where you suck their blood.
When you are gone, their skin still itches.
When you are gone, their skin is red and rough
under their hair, where you have bled them.

My canine family's days change,
because of you.
Their joyful playfulness is reduced,
their toys soon lose their appeal,
and they only briefly gather to gnaw
their chewies in friendly companionship.
Instead, in frustration, they stretch their necks
to search their bodies, and chew their paws,
because of you.

I've heard of holistic veterinarians'
failed attempts to discourage you from
drinking the blood of their canine patients;
and so...

I impose upon my canine family,
"medicines" which course throughout
their blood;
and prescription collars intended to
protect dogs from you,
little wriggling and desperate tic.
Still, you keep coming for their blood...

Therefore, today you will be my victim.
You, so tiny. Me, big killer.
Have I tried hard enough to discourage you
from coming to my family?
Decisions are filled with fears of
causing harm to other Beings.

I am your judge, jury, and executioner.
I am supposed to be your advocate.
I am an animal rightist.
This advocate of mercy will show you no mercy today.
My ultimate ache.

Must I kill you in order to defend my
family of canines?
Promise me you won't come back if
I just put you outside my front door.
No promises from you.

I know you'll bleed my family again,
if given the opportunity;
and you might suck blood from Gina,
the thin cat who visits me for food and water,
but won't come indoors.

Vegan food, no leathers, no leather-covered Bible,
no feathers, no down comforters, no silks, no wool, no furs,
no angora sweater, no camel coat,
no old piano with ivory keys.
This won't help you, little tic.
Today, I'm your murderer.

No bone china.
No bonemeal for my garden.
No egg-yolk crackled painted art.
No pearls. No sponges.
No animal-hair artist's brushes.
This doesn't help you, little tic.
Today, you'll die because of me.

No insect-stained make up.
No fish-scale shiny lips and eyelids.
No rodeo, no circus, no dog track,
no horse races, no Sea World.
No heartless this, no cruel that,
You, you I'll search out, catch, and kill.
You helpless frightened little tic.

I imagine your question "Why Me?"
Nothing I tried succeeded,
and my family of dogs has suffered,
and so today my home is your slaughterhouse,
and I will violate my deepest and highest ethics.

You are in my grip, your death is inevitable.
Heavy hearted, filled with guilt,
I go to the special little freezer.
I open a little container, repulsed
by knowledge of its purpose and history.
I drop you into it, put you in the freezer,
and close the door to seal your fate.

Goodbye Tony.
I hope you will simply become lethargic
in the cold.
I hope you will sleepily drift from life to death,
without fear, without pain.
I'll never know.

I'm disgusted that a dog who bites,
is put to death, or imprisoned for life.
Beethoven, you were a very good dog.
I despair when learning of an elephant
who finally threw her 'trainer' aside.
"You shouldn't have shot her!" my heart screams.
Janet, Tyke, and Jockey, were shot.

Now the taste of shame is bitter,
because a helpless little tiny tic,
is my own victim.
Another human-animal murders another creature.
Circumstances aren't as twisted as Beethoven's;
no years of abuse like Janet, Tyke, and Jockey;
but to you it's still the end of the World.

I've helped a chinch bug off the road,
and taken her to a feast of grass;
stopped my car to save a wandering cockroach;
helped lizards, frogs, turtles, birds, snakes,
out of traffic's way;
caught flies indoors, and freed them;
protected spiders' webs;
released an insect from a Moron's jar, but...

Today, I'm your Worst Moron, little tic.
A Christian who also embraces
Ahimsa, Sathya, Achorya, Bramacharya,
will violate all these today...
Hurt and kill, step off the right path,
rob you of your life, bring impurity to my soul.

The Jains would do better for you.
What would they do for Emily
(still sore where you drank her blood)?
I wonder what Ingrid would do.
Neal, Karen, Wayne.
St. Francis of Assisi, who saved a worm.
Stephanie, Fran, Sally-Willa.
I wonder how they would help Emily.

People for Ethical Treatment of Insects,
and the Insect Rights Association,
might suggest a way to keep you
from hurting my family.
I wish I'd thought of PETI and IRA before today.

Emily licks my hand, she's a sweet dog.
Guido, Grandma, and Teresa, are sweet dogs.
It's small comfort, and no absolution, to know
I've killed for love of them and their feline brothers.

Prevention is better than cure, and
prevention is better than killing.
I'm trying to prevent tics from bleeding my family.
Little tics.
No welcome on this Earth.
Enemies on all sides.
Poor creatures.
They just want to live.

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