The Mouse and the Human

The mouse doesn’t really bother anyone. It doesn’t
go around holding up banks or shooting people
in the face or locking them up in dank jail cells
and sticking electric prods to their genitals. It doesn’t
build jet fighters and bomb our cities in the name
of peace in the middle of the night while we are sleeping.
It doesn’t plant toy mines to blow our children’s arms off.
All the mouse wants is to share with us some shelter,
food, even the warmth of its nervous body. Yet we plug up
the cupboards so it can’t eat, and we chase it around
the living room with a broom and remove all the chairs
till it has nowhere to hide; then we club it to death
as it squeals. Or we set up traps with something it likes
to lure it into strangulation and burst its eyes out
of its head. And against what? A few light scratchings
heard in the ceiling once in a while keeping us company
at night? Two or three crumbs of bread taken from
the kitchen floor? And after the mouse, there are the ants
to be poisoned, the bees to be gassed and burned.
Later, the dandelions to be choked by spraying. And after
that, after that, there must be something after that.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
13 years 11 months ago
Thank you so much for awarding the 2004 Foley Poetry Award to Tryfon Tolides for his well-crafted poem. I've read it and re-read it a hundred times, rocked by the image of animals being wantonly destroyed because they inconvenience us. I witness this regularly as an animal shelter volunteer. People relinquish dogs because they bark and cats because they scratch on the furniture. There is no tolerance for the "other", no meeting the creatures halfway. We must learn to live in peace with ourselves, with one another, and with God.

Advertisement
11 years 3 months ago
I was so looking forward to your selection of the 2004 Foley Poetry Award winner (6/7). Disappointed does not even begin to state how I feel. How can you select a piece for a poetry contest that does not fit the criterion of a poem or poetry?

According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition:

poem—a composition in verse;

verse—a line of metrical writing;

metrical—relating to, or composed in meter;

meter—systematically arranged and measured rhythm in verse;

poetry—metrical writing, verse.

The selection made by the editors of America may be creative writing of a thought, but is it poetry?

13 years 11 months ago
Thank you so much for awarding the 2004 Foley Poetry Award to Tryfon Tolides for his well-crafted poem. I've read it and re-read it a hundred times, rocked by the image of animals being wantonly destroyed because they inconvenience us. I witness this regularly as an animal shelter volunteer. People relinquish dogs because they bark and cats because they scratch on the furniture. There is no tolerance for the "other", no meeting the creatures halfway. We must learn to live in peace with ourselves, with one another, and with God.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

 Pope Francis arrives in procession to celebrate Mass marking the feast of Pentecost in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 20. The pope at his "Regina Coeli" announced that he will create 14 new cardinals June 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Eleven of the new cardinals are under the age of 80 and so have the right to vote in the next conclave.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 20, 2018
Images: AP, Wikimedia Commons
Bishop Curry described Teilhard as “one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century.”
Angelo Jesus CantaMay 19, 2018
Both men were close to each other in life, and both are much revered by Pope Francis.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 19, 2018
The Gaza Nakba demonstrations this week have done nothing to advance the situation of Palestinian refugees, nor did they provide relief to the people of Gaza, who dwell in an open-air prison, hemmed in and oppressed at every turn.