Issue 1
Animal Planet

Animal Planet

A quick test of the assertion that enjoyment outweighs pain in this world, or that they are at any rate balanced, would be to compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten.

– – Arthur Schopenhauer

Eight specimens gather around a wooden table
somewhere outside Orlando, Florida
and shovel meat and various grain-products
into their mouths with metal instruments.
Their jaws move at regular intervals,
sometimes to process their food,
sometimes to signal to one another.
The eldest among them, a male, is dying.
His wide eyes are glossed with a clear fluid.
The curved metal instrument quivers
in his speckled hand; he seems prepared
to fight or flee, should they decide
to turn their sharper tools upon him.
“I have spinach all over me!” cries
one of the females. “You wear
what you eat,” her mate replies.
They scrape their tools
on their ceramic plates in unison.
“Food fight,” says the dying one,
straining to exhale enough to speak.
The eldest female places her mouth
close to his ear: “When you go,”
she whispers, “don’t leave me anything.”
None of them will sleep tonight;
they will sit silently in the dark
and time the old man’s bowels
with their glowing blue watches.

Daniel Harris graduated from Hofstra in 2005 with a BA in English and Creative Writing. He went on to earn an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and now teaches Composition and Literature at Long Island University, where he also serves as a fiction reader for the literary journal Confrontation. His poems have appeared in Agenda and Forklift, Ohio, among others.