By Douglas Balmain
An Animal Rights Poem from

By Douglas Balmain

Coyote photograph by Jim Robertson, Animals in the Wild

...I have no sympathy for the delusions, denial, the apathy, and self-avoidance that one must embrace in order to defend their identity, their existence, as a Trapper.

To be trapped in a mind
that views the trapping of animals
as a point of pride—
as a way of life to be revered,
romanticized, and protected…

I wanted my next line to read:
Is a reality I cannot imagine.
But I can imagine it.
I’ve been there—but I got myself out,
I got myself free from my own binds.

My voice is one of empathy
devoid of sympathy.

I have no sympathy for the delusions,
denial, the apathy, and self-avoidance
that one must embrace
in order to defend their
identity, their existence,
as a Trapper.

There is nothing romantic,
nor mystic, about the blind delusion
of the Rugged Individualist, nor
the fiction of the Mountain Man—
fictions as easily accessed
as they are debunked.

The Mountain Man was never
one with Nature.
He was an exploitative exporter—
dependent on the City’s steel,
and the Chemist’s powder—
controlled by Big Business oceans away.
He was a man who toiled to diminish
Nature so he could privately profit from
its spoils in Foreign Markets.

Mother Nature has made no grievous error.
She does not need
sprung steel to balance Her order.

But those truths don’t paint
the Trapper’s portrait in the way
they wish to see themselves.

Of course I know how scared
the Trapper must be to face the fallacies
they’ve embraced—
the fallacies that have been passed down
through their generations.

It is a fearful thing, indeed,
to expose the Self to its own wrongdoings—
to the shortcomings
of the Ancestors that it was
taught to Worship.
It is a fearful thing, indeed,
to submit one’s identity to
the uncertainty of Change.

But it is better to face
one’s fears now—while there still
exists the luxury of Choice.
For if we wait until the Wilds
and its inhabitants have been diminished,
as has been done in other Lands,
there the Trapper will sit,
with their pile of rusted jaws, still Trapped
inside their minds—
and our Natural World will sit
alongside them, dormant and deadened,
as they search desperately
for some new Thing to blame
for their own miseries and folly.

Perhaps if the Trapper were to borrow
some virtue from the Lion—
maybe if they held the same
reverence for our waters as the Beaver,
the same devotion to family
as the Wolf—
perhaps if they borrowed some
awareness from the Marten,
and some wisdom from the Coyote—
perhaps then the Trapper might
find the strength—
the motivation and accountability
they so desperately need—
to free themselves from their Traps.

Poetry is vital and invincible. Poetry has a power to inspire change like no other art form, and the power and impact of poetry is on the rise. Your interpretation is yours alone and it can change the way we think or feel about something. It can help in times of challenge and it can bolster in periods of unease. The words below were shared with WU and our advocates by a friend that we respect and trust—if they speak to you like they did to us, we hope you’ll take a moment to share them with your own communities of allies and advocates.

Originally published by Wyoming Untrapped.

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