Sympathy evolved peripherally,
a selective way to keep the tribe alive
through the secondhand pangs of trial,
tributaries of tribulation shared by blood,
our hardwired love of Rover and Fluffy just
a shadow of family need in the genes.
But what if we could feel the flesh we eat,
taste the fatal throes ol’ Bossie endured
as the butcher put a hammer to her head?
What if every whitemeat nugget sliding
greasy down our throats held a grindhouse
flash of Chicken Little, debeaked and choked?
Would we shun personalized burgers
and embrace plates of cheerful fruits?
Would we eagerly flee from carnivory,
ban the slaughter and celebrate salad,
glorify veggies, their tales of pain so dull;
no yardman names the blades he mows.
But righteous sadists might dictate diets of woe:
priests would curse the sins in mother’s milk
and tell their flocks to feed the babies Bambi.
Hardening souls for a Heavenly shine, pious
soldiers would savor Apocalyptic glory
in the soylent flesh of every blessed enemy.
This poem first appeared at Strange Horizons.