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James Strecker is the author or editor of fourteen books, including Black on jazz and Pas de Vingt on ballet, both with artist Harold Town, Routes with photographer Bill Smith, and Recipes for Flesh on animal rights. Widely published as a poet, freelance writer and photographer, he is also Professor of English at Sheridan College, an Intensive Journal Consultant, a publisher, a graphoanalyst, and recipient of the Hamilton Arts Awards for 1992. London, April 25, 1992: World Day for Laboratory Animals, London, England is taken from Strecker's collection, Echosystem, which was published in 1993 by Mini Mocho Press (Jackson Station, P.O. Box 57424, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8P 4X2)

London, April 25, 1992
World Day for Laboratory Animals, London, England
By James Strecker


If the vivisection lab
were made of glass,
a crowd as large as humanity
would watch, uneasy yet curious,
outside. Some would call the deed
torture, not science, and some
would call the deed thinking gone
crazy. And a few would name death
their one desire, for this world
of perfect knowledge is truly hell.
Yet as each season dies into the
birth of another, and we of false
serenity still burn our hands
to clutch the sun, our mercies
endure though we'll be ashes and
dust; for without compassion we
are nothing, only mortal. And
we, full of sadness who live sad
lives, in mercy are something more
than alive; we are footsteps, we
are sound, and we seek not science
but greater knowing. Thus we know
that every god dwells divine
within the flesh of rats and mice
and rabbits and dogs and cats, and
within every he and she alive: this
is not news, this is common knowledge,
even among the dead, the tortured
and the dead we mourn here today.
And if we have no language to
describe the reasoned cruelty
intended by women and men, we can
never be still, for in our multitude
purpose even one life may be spared:
this brief mercy echoes a roar of love.

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