The last time they did any harm to anyone was probably thousands of years ago;--therefore we catch them and cut them up into coats, Their frolicsomeness, too, sliced up by contemptuous human analysis; Yes, through the binoculars of the human in the dinghy, like a text beneath some mad scientist's magnifying-glass The seals as they cavort, tend to scan like some pre-prepared, allegedly amusing, and gloriously convenient gloss which only tells us That the weak are only here on this our sad planet to be hurt. The last time they did any harm to anyone was probably thousands of years ago;--therefore we find them in the circus, like purportedly hilarious characters, forced by us to be terribly funny On multicolored stands, noses pressed up against old auto-horns, Falling all over themselves, and performing national anthems such as "God Bless America"; "God Save The King"; and, sometimes, occasionally still, "The Internationale" --Half-Starved for a half-rotten fish, and the target Of our ancient disrespect, secret loathing, and finally outright public contempt Since the weak are only here on this our sad planet to be hurt. Gaze, gaze again, oh Humans of Goodwill, upon more of what even our children typically can see-- Examine, for example, the sight of a seal coming out of its little white hut in a crowded city zoo; and then, as it raises its remaining nose to sniff the city air Slipping on a banana-peel; and, oh yes, let's examine all the uproarious reactions to that, as the creature falls For as long as the weak are only here on this our sad planet to be hurt.
From The Poetry Society America Journal, 1984. Copyright © 1984 and Copyright © 1999 by Michael Benedikt. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.