n the Defense Department there is a shop
where scientists sew the eyelids of rabbits open
lest they blink in the scorch of a nuclear drop
and elsewhere dolphins are being taught to defuse
bombs in the mockup of a harbor and monkeys
learn to perform the simple tasks of draftees.
It is done with electric shocks. Some mice
who have failed their time tests in the maze
now go to the wire unbidden for their jolts.
Implanting electrodes yields rich results:
alley cats turn from predators into prey.
Show them a sparrow and they cower
while the whitewall labs fill up with the feces of fear
where calves whose hearts have been done away
with walk and bleat on plastic pumps.
And what is any of this to the godhead,
these squeals, whines, writhings, unexpected jumps,
whose children burn alive, booby-trap the dead,
lops ears and testicles, core and disembowel?
It all ends at the hole. No words may enter
the house of excrement. We will meet there
as the sphincter of the good Lord opens wide
and He takes us all inside.
-- Maxine Kumin