Heidi StephensonThe Murder Of Muridae
Animal Rights Poetry By Heidi Stephenson From All-Creatures.org

Poems of compassion dedicated to the non-human animals who share this planet with us and the people who fight for them.


The Murder Of Muridae
By Heidi Stephenson

Mus musculus,
The laboratory mouse,
Is highly sentient.
When she suffers
Acute pain,
She “vocalizes.”
That’s squealing,
That’s screaming,
To you and I.
Her heart
And respiration rates -
She shakes
She becomes
If she can, she will bite
(Though timid
By nature,)
Though restrained,
At the back of her neck;
Her loose skin
By indifferent thumb
And middle finger.
Though she’s choking.
Though there are needles
In her eyes now;
For yet another
Retro-orbital bleeding -
To collect blood,
For yet a further
PhD student’s
Pointless thesis.
Though “severe injuries
May” (and do) “occur.”
Though “satisfactory alternatives
Are available,
And should be
Though general anaesthesia
Ought to be applied -
“Unless the operator
Is highly experienced
And proficient
In the procedure.”

But just imagine

Her daughter too
Is being held
By her tail -
With metal forceps.
The untrained hands,
Of the biologist,
Lacking the skill,
Or compassion,
Of an animal handler.
He is shockingly indifferent,
To the need
For gentleness;
Impatient only
To transfer
His “experimental subject”
Onto the cold, hard surface,
In order to perform
His cardiac “puncture” -
And collect more “data.”
If she recovers,
She will stop eating;
Choose to waste away
From “Anorexia”
(In laboratory terms,)
Her glossy coat
Now dull and rough,
With no desire
To groom herself
Any longer,
Or move around
Her tiny,
Shoebox cage -
Its wire floor,
Biting into
Delicate feet.
Her eyes and nostrils
With a red-brown
Porphyrin discharge:
Flowing and crusting,
Flowing and crusting,
Flowing and crusting.
Her body’s own
Desperate sign,
Of her extreme
Her only wish,
That his “procedure”
Had been terminal
After all.

She sees her sister,
A “breeder”
Like herself,
Still struggling
In a plastic cylinder;
In the one-size fits all
Restraining device -
Flailing around
On the slippery surface,
With no grip
To give comfort,
Or security.
Her scratch wounds
From a mite infestation,
Infected with bacteria.
Her immune system
From so many
Litters of pups,
From so much

They should all
Be asleep now,
Huddled up together -
Communal beings,
Warm, social,
Biologically nocturnal;
Their dreaming
Turned topsy-turvy
By the harsh, laboratory lights.
Their natural life span
(Up to three years)
Cut brutally short;
By carbon dioxide asphyxiation,
By overdose of anaesthetic agent,
By cervical dislocation,
By decapitation
(In the absence of deep anaesthesia).
The latter methods,
Only being used
(We are assured)
In cases
Which are…
“Scientifically justified.”
Or the opening
Of the thoracic cavity,
Ensuring death
In twilight cases.
Having to be dead,
Their carcasses
Are disposed of
In laboratory

Just three
Of the 100 million,3
Every year,
In the name
Of so-called,
90% of them
Harmless mice;
Who were never
(In the Divine Mind at least)
For sacrifice.

  1. Retro-Orbital Bleeding, Cornell University
  2. Retro-Orbital Bleeding, Cornell University
  3. Animal Testing and the Law - Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)
  4. Dr. Hadwen Trust - What's the Solution

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