0930 H IP Living with Animals
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands
of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
“Song of Myself”
As Uncle Walt sung I too sing. But my song isn’t poetry. I am not poetic. I’m more like a Steve Miller song, I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker . . . I get my lovin’ on the run, dig? My copy of Leaves of Grass has both the First and the Death Bed editions; first and last; beginning and end; cradle and grave, humma humma. Two of my snakes I’ve had since they hatched from their eggs, watched them hatch, watched their first shed, fed them their first mice; another snake I’ve had since he was roughly three-four months old and now he’s eighteen years old. The other six snakes who share their lives with me range in age from five years to thirteen. None of them sweat, none of them whine.
Of the five lizards the blue-tongue skink has lived with me the longest and the bearded dragon the shortest. In between are the geckos and the tegu. She’s beautiful, the tegu, and she’s given me more scars than the goddamn war. Pure attitude. None of them lie awake, none of them weep for their sins.
And there’s the tarantula. I play with her spinerettes. She doesn’t give a shit. And she doesn’t make me sick discussing her duty to God.
The hedgehog spends most of his time in his plastic igloo. If he ain’t in there he’s on his exercise wheel runningrunningrunningrunningrunning with pure satisfaction. He ain’t dissatisfied and he ain’t demented with the mania of owning things. The igloo and the exercise wheel ain’t his; he uses them.
Now for the rabbit, a law unto himself. He kneels to no other, not to one of his kind nor otherwise. These are the animals who let me live with them and not one of us is respectable or unhappy. Not one of us. Sure as shit not me. I ain’t unhappy. No sir, not me. Not unhappy, fucked. Yessir, that’s me. And that’s okay. Headaches, backaches, nightsweats when it’s 77°F inside with a fan blowing on me, but I ain’t unhappy because I got a rabbit who dances when he sees me come through the door, a hedgehog who runs on his wheel with abandon, a tarantula who doesn’t mind if I play with her spinerettes, five lizards and nine snakes who love my shoulders, my lap, take mice from my hands like a puppy takes a biscuit. Unhappy, ain’t me. Animals live with me and ain’t one of them human. And they don’t mind if I’m maudlin and depressed. Don’t give a shit if I ain’t a poem but a rock-n-roll song, don’t mind that I’m a picker, I’m a grinner, I’m a lover and I’m a sinner . . . I am not Uncle Walt. I am Uncle Jack. I live with nonhuman animals. They’re better than any drug/medication/therapy session. We have our little home on a little patch of this whole earth.