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Killing’s Sweet


Plants, pushing roots into crazed fissures
caress the subsoil on a chalky hill
draw nutrients from the musty earth,
make stem, leaf, flower, fruit,
tuber and nut, in wild profuse array.
So comes the herbivore grinding the greenery
between his flat millstone teeth
stained with summer’s sultry flour,
savouring fruits and foliage, rich perfume
foaming on the flower-spiced breeze:

the rodent and the deer, the wildebeest
flying in the silken seas of grass,
gorilla in the tree crushing the leaves,
fish that in the curved and flickering deep
kiss the weeds that fly in oily winds.
Burner of trees, breaker of soil
sower of corn and turnip, rice and yam
comes man scouring the forest’s hills,
hoarder of grain for when the sun has shrunk
into the guttering light of winter’s night.

So comes the carnivore with fangs of flint
to kill and tear away the flesh,
the lion content to sleep in feasted ease
knowing when hunger comes the kill is quick,
enough to last for several days;
and man the hunter with spear and knife,
arrow to race the fastest of the deer
adds to his skills, the easy killing’s sweet,
does not forget, sharpens his knowledge too,
adds to the corn the blood-taste of meat.

But killing is a taste all of its own,
the beast’s heart, man’s, small difference;
the anger, the adrenaline a part
beyond just animal need or hungering.
The ways of killing grown into our flesh
should not surprise, they lurk beneath the skin,
trembled in the hearts of ancient men –
the will to dominate, the pack’s dead hate –
why should it astound if fired beyond our will
we lose hunger’s restraint, kill just to kill.

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