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Life Arts    H4'ed 12/24/16

Poet's Notebook: My poem, "What do I do about the mice: A pacifist's quandary" and comments

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It was late,
In the middle of the second half of the night.
We were asleep.
The mice were not.
They sleep during the day.

They were very busy gnawing
On something in the wall.
It is the kind of sound
That gets to you,
It feels like it's inside you

Like a trespass.
The breaking of a commandment.
The kiss-off of a "thou shalt not".
And my wife was not taking it.
She was incredibly awake.

I was only half-awake
When she said,
You have to do something about the mice.
I wondered if she meant, right now.
Or tomorrow,

Which at the moment
Seemed like never.
I have been promising to do something about the mice
For years.
My wife

Is one of the most patient people on the planet.
Or maybe I am.
See, I'm a pacifist.
We have all these little
Have-a-heart traps

That really work.
But in the winter
The average day is too cold
To release the mice-people.
Sure, they are disease-carriers

And they sh*t and piss
Between the walls.
But they have a right to live.
I can hear the peanut gallery laughing.
I imagine a gallery of grotesque

Caricatures of humanity
Ridiculing my pacifistic,
Some might say,
Spineless, quixotic position
On what to do about the mice . . .

I was born this way.
My mother couldn't kill anything,
But it went beyond that.
She couldn't countenance
The suffering of anything

No matter how small
Or pesky.
And I have a lot of her in me.
And at 3:00 in the morning
My heart seems

To take up a lot more of my body.
I'm not a Christian
And yet
I live by
The commandment,

"Thou must not commit murder."
Killing to me
Is murder.
So, where does that leave me?
It's not a thought, or an advisement,

It's a commandment
Written in my bones.
Not to be taken lightly
We have to listen to our bones.

We have to listen to what they say.
Bones don't care
About a lot of things
That matter to the flesh.
Why, sometimes

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)

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