Heidi StephensonParallel Lives
Animal Rights Poetry By Heidi Stephenson From All-Creatures.org

Poems of compassion dedicated to the non-human animals who share this planet with us and the people who fight for them.

Parallel lives
By Heidi Stephenson

We feel squeezed.
We feel confined.
We feel imprisoned.

We feel depressed.
We are beginning
to climb the walls now

We are bored…

Despite the row upon row
of books, DVDs, old CDs,
the Internet, the iPads,
the calls, texts, chats
on Zoom, the live-streaming,
the neighbours.

the promises,
the life-lines,
the injections,
the grants,
the stocked
the central heating,
the NHS.

Our hope,
our motivation
beginning to go.
is the same.
Lonely, lonely,
we moan,
day in, day out:
no tangible contact,
no lightness,
no spontaneity,
no future plans,
no fun.

Life shut down,
reduced to a daily
walk, a sleepless night,
another repeat
on the goggle-box.

But this is LUXURY,
this man-made version,
compared to the lot
of the poor
‘battery’ hen –
forced to ‘live’
in a space
the size
of a sheet
of A4…

No choice
but to balance
on a sharp wire
mesh, that cuts
and wounds
her tired,
broken feet,
that burns
her thin, buckling,
deformed legs,
with the acid
of weeks
of uncleared
urine and faeces.

No A & E.
No “intensive care.”
No “critical care.”
No “universal credit.”
No help. No mercy.
No compassion.
(No awareness.
Blind eyes, deaf ears.)
No way out.

A feeling hen
her bright
young mind,
her keen
young senses,
born for dust bathing,
for short flights,
for community life,
for roosting her clutch
of male(1) and female chicks,
for self-selecting
her food, foraging
in the woodlands,
in the long grass –

who can hear
the free birds
just outside,
who can sense
the warmth
of the first sun,
who imagines
and remembers
(her ancient species
that tender touch
of the new Spring blades,
that revivifying blaze

But who will never,
never, never get to see
or feel any
of it.

Just her day
of violent death,
to look

…a broken neck,
a gushing throat,
the scalding tank.

All this
for a cheap egg?

All this
for a fluffy sponge?

All this
for a cut-price
bargain box of nuggets?(2)

From terrible truth… to happy ending! Left for Dead: Chicken's Amazing Recovery

(1) 6 billion newborn male chicks are ground up alive (“macerated”) or dumped into plastic bags and left to suffocate because they cannot lay eggs.

(2) 6 billion, of the over 50 billion chickens killed each year across the globe, are egg layers. Having laid over a trillion eggs, after just a year, they are killed for their efforts. Left to their own devices, chickens have a natural life span of 10 years.

©Heidi Stephenson, January 2021

caged Hens

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