In Defence of My Lawsuit

Against Lubbock Museum
Re: Their Purchase of Two Mules to be Shot and Stuffed for Exhibit
Should my lawsuit be successful and the animals deemed to require

proper burial, I am fully aware that what will be buried

will no longer be them in their essence, that the parting of meat

and skin was a permanent one formalized on the taxidermist’s table.
Are we rendered more or less ourselves by an arrangement of skin?

The difference between hair and fur, between sleekness and drudgery,

between practicality and a dead mule, contained in multitudes of shaved

bone flakes on a hardwood floor.
Personally, I’ve always felt I was meant to be  cotton wrapped

around a wire body, but in this legal transcript I must represent

the best interests of the ghosts of the dead who came to visit me

in line at Subway yesterday morning to insist on justice.
What is justice? I asked them, filling my cup with Fanta

and sitting down with three soft M&M cookies, but they didn’t enjoy

talking in such abstract terms, preferring instead to shoot

the shit and split a 12-inch turkey sub, resting their yoke on the table

and blinking away blades of grass that fell lightly from the ceiling.


Laura Clarke is the author of “Decline of the Animal Kingdom” (ECW, 2015), which was named one of National Post’s 99 Best Books of 2015  and Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2015. Her poetry, criticism and other writing has been published in The National Post, PRISM International, Riddle Fence, Grain and The Puritan. She is the 2013 winner of the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers from the Writers’ Trust of Canada, and a graduate of University of Toronto’s MA Program in English in the Field of Creative Writing. She’s from Hamilton, Ontario and currently lives and writes in Toronto.

The poem printed above is from her remarkable book “Decline of the Animal Kingdom” which mingles various species with the human and juxtaposes the urban jungle and the green wilderness.