Taking Kids to the Oregon Zoo: A Lesson in the Age of Dumb

zoos, oh zoology
rushing torrents of strollers
electric guitars on stage
like a run through an airport
connecting flights the cotton
candy, elephant ears, snow
cones, all bundled up in diaper
rash, daddies saying stupid
things about polar bears

this is conveyor belt
consumption, a zoo-like
snow globe planet
everything wrong — sun
bear next to black bear
gibbons caged, elephants
mulling around arthritic
polar bears hairless

kids and no-nothings
rushing through like
methed-out contributors to
a game of eating, spending, agnotology
these zoos are anti-places, prisons
of higher spirituality, even geckos
hold more sentient-weight
than selfie-wielding families

zoo planet, eco-tours, zip lines
rafting trips behind the dam
the cotton candy and cheeseburgers
the weight of the soul
Homo Sapiens, Gargantuan
Consumo-pithecus, Retail-horrobulis

not one conceptualization, save
for the girl in wheelchair
dystrophy or CP, tears watching
tigers leave her gaze
she wants to stay, commune
but mother pushes her, talks of gift
shop, beat the traffic, dinner at Old Spaghetti
Factory, yet paralytic girl wants
hurly-burly of spider monkeys
an hour with fruit bats
away from her own pen
the spokes of her life
similar to chimpanzees
picking scabs, people pointing

laughing, a President of spiritual-ethical disability
guffawing about gimps, cripples, on
National TV, while his make-america-
great people eaters line up for
buffalo burgers and sturgeon soup
the smear of their sweat like seeds
hooking every speck of soil
with invasive ignorance


Born Free
Alternatives Wild Politics
Animal Liberation Peter Singer
Should we Eat Animals?
The Case for Animal Rights
Lesli Bisgould
Meat Production
Forks Over Knives
Tom Regan

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. His book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his autobiography, weekly chapter installments, at LA Progressive. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.