If Your Tears Were Human
Poems By Heather Leughmyer

By Amanda Moeckel

Our Children

Behind the bars of their prison
In a corner they cower
Huddled and clinging
Hour by hour
Their small bodies tremble
Their eyes wide with fear
So much like our children
And yet, they are here.

No bottles or blankets
No toys or play
No cradling arms
To rock worry away

Why some babies are safe
Why some aren’t, it’s not clear
They are just like our children
But our children aren’t here.

Another day gone
But they won’t feel the sun
They will never climb trees
Or be able to run
Indifference surrounds them
Yet with each salty tear
Like our children they suffer
So why are they here?

~Chimpanzees and humans share 99 percent of their genetic composition. Chimpanzees are highly intelligent, probably more so than human-based tests are able to measure. They make and use tools, cooperate with and learn from each other, and can learn various forms of expression and communication, including American Sign Language and computer symbols. Chimpanzees also have good memories.~

Letter To My Unborn Child

You’ll never watch an elephant standing on her head
You will see amazing acrobats and painted clowns instead.

You’ll never color Easter eggs or eat a “Happy” Meal
Instead you’ll give pigs belly rubs – You’ll know chickens dream and feel.

The clamor from the ice cream truck won’t be music to your ears
You will know your Soy Delicious caused no suffering or tears.

You may hear a gentle gobble as you softly stroke a turkey
And give thanks that she’s alive as you’re eating your Tofurky.

While other kids buy leather shoes and eat at Chuck E. Cheese
You’ll be kissing cows and feeding goats and saying “soy please!”

Being different can be hard I know - This world is often cruel
Maybe you’ll be laughed at by the other kids at school.

But compassion is a vital gift that too few share with others
And your heart will not be filled with guilt the way it plagues your mother’s.

So don’t ever be embarrassed or ashamed because you care
You’ll be uniquely beautiful with an empathy that’s rare.

And when you see a rescued lamb and touch his thick warm fleece
You’ll feel no sadness or remorse – You can look at him in peace.

What took so long for me to learn, I’ll start teaching you from birth
And your footprint will be much tinier on this fragile earth.

~Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child, as it is to the caterpillar.~ Bradley Miller

To My Daughter

Look my sweet girl, at her long gentle face,
Those tender, trusting eyes,
She’s a mother like me, with a daughter like you,
Please don’t listen to the lies.

Her milk isn’t meant for humans,
It’s to make her baby strong,
And stealing something that isn’t ours
Is always very wrong.

Look my sweet girl, at his cute squishy face,
Those deep, engaging eyes,
He has a name, just like you and me,
Please don’t listen to the lies.

He’s not another breakfast food,
To go with toast and fruit,
He loves his life, fresh air and mud,
Let’s watch him roll and root.

Look my sweet girl, at her delicate face,
Those tiny, inquisitive eyes,
She’s pleasant and curious, like you, she has friends
Please don’t listen to the lies.

She’s not another egg machine,
To be crammed into a cage,
Let’s let her dust-bathe in the sun
And live to a ripe-old age.

Look my sweet girl, at the beauty and grace,
The affection that animals give,
Without them the world’s a much gloomier place,
So together we’ll help more to live.

~I believe with all my heart that some day people will look back on this period in time as the "Diet Dark Ages." Children of the future will wrinkle up their faces in disgust as they learn of our cannibalistic eating of other beings, and their mouths will drop open in disbelief upon learning that once upon a time we actually drank the milk of non-human animals. Until that time, however, we live in an alien culture.~ JoAnn Farb

A Baby's Story

I am born, just one second old,
My wriggly red body first feels the cold-
As I fall to the floor, there is no soft landing,
And the stench in the air, beyond my understanding-
My first moments on earth seem somehow all wrong…
Where’s mama’s nuzzle? What’s taking so long?

Finally my mouth finds the liquid I crave,
With no sign of a nuzzle, I try to be brave-
My tiny frame quivers, from fear and from cold
Until finally sleep saves me, this naïve one-day-old.

When my eyes finally open, and I see this awful place,
I will see my mama’s misery, the sadness in her face-
The reason she can’t touch me - rusted bars that enslave,
The waste on the floor of this huge sunless cave.

Soon I will feel the suffering that billions have to know-
Corporate greed surrounds me, as I begin to grow.

~Pigs are very clean animals who take to the mud primarily to cool off and evade flies. They are just as friendly and gregarious as dogs, and according to Professor Donald Broom at the Cambridge University Veterinary School, “They have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly three-year-olds."~

Smile, Indiana

On a country road you sit alone,
Confused by passing cars.
Ears notched, tail cropped, someone’s property,
Yet somehow, here you are.

Born into an industry
that sells you off for parts,
You must have seen the darkness-
Humans without hearts.

Did you sense your mother’s sorrow
Before this fateful day?
Did you look into her desperate eyes
As you were ripped away?

Did you see her tiny prison?
The boredom she endured?
Did depression overwhelm you
With every cry you heard?

You sit outside the shadows now,
But what about the others?
Where are your suffering sisters?
Where are your brutalized brothers?

You’re just one among billions,
Your life somehow spared-
Now you’re given a chance
To find humans who care.

A lost little miracle,
You have so much to teach-
So many minds to change.
So many hearts to reach.

You’re special, Indiana,
And now you’re on your way
To a place you only dreamed about
To live out all your days.

Your worried face grows more relaxed
And with every passing mile
Your pain and fear begin to fade
And I think I see a smile…

Smile, Indiana, smile.

~Dedicated to “Tallulah Indy” and the wonderful people at SASHA Farm who rescue and rehabilitate abused farm animals and make their lives whole for the first time.~

Eyes Of An Elephant

The majestic grace
Of your silhouette
An enormous frame
They won't soon forget
But from shadowed stands
They don’t see your eyes
How they reveal
A thousand lies.

They would see your freedom
Ripped away
They would see the price
You had to pay
The day you wept
As your mother lay dying
And they didn’t care
That her baby was crying.

You should be strong
You should be proud
Now you cringe before
A roaring crowd
Callously “broken”
So long ago
And forced to perform
This awkward show.

Caught up in the moment
As you “entertain”
They don’t notice the bull hooks
The scars, the pain
From their seats they don’t see
What your eyes say so well
If they saw they’d be sure
Yes, there’s a hell.

~Since 1990, at least 11 people have been killed and numerous others injured by captive-elephant attacks. As the injuries to both humans and elephants mount, the public has come to recognize that exotic animals do not belong in circuses and cages, but rather in their homelands with their families. As Officer Blaine Doyle, who had to shoot 47 rounds into Janet, an elephant who ran amok with three children on her back, noted: "I think these elephants are trying to tell us that zoos and circuses are not what God created them for . . . but we have not been listening."~

In Chains

Angels sway from side to side
Bull hook scars are hard to hide
Beauty blinks with empty eyes
As if to beg ‘Please tell me why’
Innocence is bound by chains
Enormous grace, enormous pain.

Greed sees money on four feet
Property to own and beat
Indifference moves from town to town
Dressing sadness like a clown
Deception’s free to come and go
For misery, on with the show.

Intelligence stands on her head
For a cheering crowd – She’s all but dead
Callousness claims she loves her part
Then shoots compassion through the heart
Ignorance locks truth away
And peaceful souls will always pay.

Angels travel in cold and heat
Slaves to devils on two feet.

~Shrine Circuses have deplorable records of cruelty to animals, serious violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and animal attacks resulting in injury and even death. Elephants used by Shriners have rampaged, killing trainers and injuring children. Although many successful charitable organizations never use circus fundraisers, about 150 of Shrine's 191 temples host annual circuses. These circuses raise funds for the temples' administrative costs, not for the Shriners children's hospitals.~

My World

Twelve years ago this heavy chain
Became the world I knew
Rapidly the dust replaced
The space where grass once grew
At first I cried from loneliness
I haven't cried in years
I gave that up to hopelessness
They never see my tears.

When winter comes I dream of spring
As I shiver through the night
My water freezes into ice
While my world turns into white
When summer comes I long for fall
The sun is unforgiving
As my water quickly disappears
So does my thirst for living.

This circle of dirt beneath my feet
Has seen a million paces
As I have watched pass by me
At least a thousand faces
All of them too busy
To stop and be a friend
I'd pull and tug and wag my tail
The chain would always end.

Twelve years ago this rusty chain
Became the world I know
A world of isolation
A world where grass won't grow
A world of bitter coldness
A world of searing heat
A world where no one comforts you
When your heart beats it's last beat.

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." ~ Nelson Mandela

Through A Beagle's Eyes

I use to be excited, to see you everyday-
I thought perhaps you’d take me home,
That maybe we could play.
As time went by, my tail grew limp,
I circled round and round.
Please tell me what I did so wrong
To be here in this pound?

Yesterday I saw you take my little friend away-
I don’t know where you took him,
But he isn’t back today.
I know that he was sick though,
Cause his cage was caked with red.
His eyes were sad and empty-
He had stitches in his head.

I feel so all alone here-
All I have to do is wait.
I want a loving face to lick,
A toy or a mate.
But lately I just lay here,
Not feeling very good.
I stopped eating yesterday,
If it didn’t hurt I would.

When you finally come to get me
I know something isn't right-
But unlike my little friend,
I don't put up a fight.
As I lay here on the table,
I look into your face-
One last time I wonder
Why I'm in this awful place.

~Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic, explains, "I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil."~

Number 968

Number 968 was born in July
Number 892 is nervous and shy

"Free to good home" was 843
Number 627 can no longer see

Number 585 scratches both ears
Number 417 has circled for years

Numbers 389 through 397
Were no longer needed
Now they're in heaven

Always tucking her tail
That's 213
Pain relief for 200
Remains to be seen

172 has lost so much weight
And tomorrow it's over
For 148

For 121 through 135
Tomorrow the test
That none will survive

Numbers 1 through 100
Have all been through hell
Behind each number now
Remains an empty cell

If consumers stopped the funding
It could just change a fate
It could just make a difference
For 9 hundred 68.

~Every year, millions of animals suffer and die in painful tests to determine the "safety" of cosmetics and household products. Substances ranging from eye shadow and soap to furniture polish and oven cleaner are tested on rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, dogs, and other animals, despite the fact that test results do not help prevent or treat human illness or injury.~


Vilified by Hollywood
Blamed for a disease
That dark, consuming shadow crept
Not from you, but from your fleas
You suffer undefended
At the mercy of men in white
Drugged, deprived, shocked, and sliced
Yet rarely do you bite.

Expendably inexpensive
To those easily seduced
By carnivorous constrictors
You're recklessly reproduced
Provisions for ball pythons
Uncomplicated prey
Confined inside four walls of glass
Victim of the day.

Your bodies are broken
With the sharp snap of steel
You writhe with convulsions
From a poisoned meal
Slow death by starvation
Immobilized in glue
A living being so despised
Just because you're you.

Your willowy whiskers vibrate
Teeth grinding like a purr
Your eyes contented little slits
As I caress your fur
Overflowing with affection
This guiltless little creature
To some may seem a curse
But to others, is a teacher.

~Rats are one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet. Rats are clean, intelligent, and resourceful. They are social animals who show empathy and affection towards other rats or even humans. Rats have gotten a very undeserved bad reputation!~

If Your Tears Were Human

Your language, to us, is foreign
Yet your fear is still the same-
We may not notice tears fall
But your body feels the pain.
Your happiness is stolen
Like the hope once in your eyes-
So many like you suffer,
So much beauty dies.

If your tears were human
And you could speak with words-
Your suffering might touch more hearts
Your pleas just might be heard.
If only you could paint your pain
Compose a melancholy song-
Maybe then we’d understand
What we thought was right is wrong.

Your body is our instrument
For you, there is no rest-
To us, you’re just some fast food
Or the data from some test.
Chained and caged, you entertain
You’re a coat without a voice-
We could live life differently,
For you, there is no choice.

If your tears were human
And you could speak with words-
Your suffering might touch more hearts
Your pleas just might be heard.
If only you could paint your pain
Compose a melancholy song-
Maybe then we’d understand
What we thought was right is wrong.

I hope someday we understand
What we think is right is wrong.

~Zoologists at Oxford University who studied captive minks found that despite generations of being bred for fur, minks have not been domesticated and suffer greatly in captivity, especially if they are not given the opportunity to swim. Foxes, raccoons, and other animals suffer equally and have been found to cannibalize each other as a reaction to their crowded confinement.~

In The Name Of Tradition

In a smothering sea of white
Gentle beauty is lost
Born and bred to be dinner
Whatever the cost.
Debeaked, detoed, crippled and weak
Disease running rampant
Your future is bleak.
In a huge sunless warehouse
Tens of thousands crammed tight
Kept like a secret
Out of mind, out of sight.

When your body is fattened
And you collapse from the weight
You are grabbed by rough hands
And sent to your fate.
Hung by your feet
Flapping and scared
Still conscious, confused
If only they cared.
Your neck is then slit
By a mechanized blade
As life drains from your body
You’re alone and afraid.
Another beside you
Misses the knife
Still conscious, she’s boiled
Slowly ending her life.

Neatly you are packaged
Shipped to every store
Butterball makes money
Spent breeding millions more.
Behind the tidy shrink-wrap
Is a mutilated bird
Who had feelings and emotions
And cries that went unheard.

In the name of “tradition”
Tens of millions will die
Somehow their sad remains
Seem so wrong with pumpkin pie.

~A British study found that turkeys showed a preference for different kinds of music and sounds, and a poultry scientist said, “If you throw an apple to a group of turkeys, they’ll play with it together.” Some turkey farmers admit that the birds show “signs of personality.”~

Her Secret

In a crowded cage she sits
Ammonia chokes the air
Aside from all the feces
The wire floor is bare.

Not a strand of straw for comfort
To build a cozy nest
She lays egg after egg after egg after egg
And never gets to rest.

Her skin exposed and bleeding
Where feathers should have been
She’s a shell of what she use to be
This hopeless little hen.

Never has she stretched her wings
Or scratched her feet in dirt
She’s known this life forever
Deprivation, darkness, hurt.

To them she’s just a “unit”
Her job is to produce
When she no longer can
She’ll no longer be of use.

All she’s ever known
Is her tiny metal hell
Every day enduring
The boredom, pain, the smell.

Her eggs will soon be omelets
Be deviled and be dyed
While smiling cartoon hens
Keep her secret locked inside.

~Chickens are inquisitive animals, and when in their natural surroundings, they form friendships and social hierarchies, recognize one another and develop pecking orders, love and care for their young, and enjoy a full life that includes dust-bathing, making nests, and roosting in trees. On the factory farm, however, chickens are denied these activities.~

For Jane

Through the growing crack in the delicate shell
A newborn's beak is seen
Then a damp and fragile body
Golden feathers to groom and preen
A tiny little blue-eyed girl
One of 50,000 others
All born without a nest of straw
All chirping for their mothers.

As days go by her body swells
Her legs begin to ache
The weight is so unbearable
That sometimes legs will break
She watches as others perish
On the feces covered ground
Not capable of reaching food
They starve without a sound.

After 42 short days of life
Still a baby at that age
She's violently yanked up by her feet
And thrown into a cage
Packed so tightly she cannot move
With miles of road ahead
Will she survive this brutal transport
Or be one of the many dead?

At her final destination
When the highway finally ends
She hears the terrified screams of family
The shrieks of frightened friends
With a pounding heart she sits and waits
She has no other choice
She can't tell them that her foot is stuck
She doesn't have a voice.

When this little girl with sad blue eyes
Is finally ripped away
From the crate that has become her hell
Her little foot will stay
Severed from her body
No one hears her cry in pain
But I'm not alone in crying now
For this little girl called "Jane."

~ Conscious, mutilated, pulsing with the burning sensations of the electric shocks unable to move or cry out Jane was dumped with other chickens into a tank of scalding water, and no one saved her. All that remained was her story to tell, the story that I saw imprinted in her sad, helpless little foot left behind in the trailer, recalling the life of Jane, a baby broiler chicken who was tortured to death. ~ Twyla Francois

A New Beginning

She gazes with love
Into small almond eyes
And forgets for a moment
The buzzing of flies.
He looks up at her
In an instant he knows
She’ll keep him safe
And help him to grow.

Just as their bond
Begins to grow strong
He’s pulled away roughly
Something is wrong.
He looks back at her
She gets further away
She lets out a cry
She wants him to stay.

Distress disregarded
Fear forgotten so well
He’s forced onto a ramp
On the road to his hell.
Crammed into a truck
With so many others
All of them frightened
Torn from mothers.

When the truck finally stops
They’re led out one by one
Chained by the neck
Denied mom’s milk and sun.
There in the darkness
In tiny stalls they wait
Unable to move
Unaware of their fate.

Mechanical hands and hormones
Having babies ripped away
Soon take their toll on her
She has just one more day.
As she’s shoved into a truck
He’s hauled into another
By this same time tomorrow
He will finally see his mother.

But this time will be different
No bars, no crate, no chain
Sunlight replaces darkness
Pastures replace the pain.
The bond they share can grow this time
They’ll never have to part
They’ll live as nature meant them to
As they should have from the start.

~Cows who are left to roam pastures and care for their young form life-long friendships with one another and have demonstrated the ability to be vain, hold grudges, and play games. But the cows raised for the meat and dairy industries are far removed from sun-drenched pastures and nursing calves.~

Modern Slaughter

Behind thick doors
Windowless walls
Dangling bodies bleed.
Despite desperate cries
Frantic fights
Eyes that beg and plead.

Each precious neck
Parting heart from head.
Each sweet brown face
Swiftly stained
A sticky, sickly red.

Life slowly seeps
From each guiltless soul
And falls at the killer’s feet.
The butchers continue
On still-conscious minds
Turning muscle into “meat.”

Severed vocal chords
Are unsuccessful
Translating pain to sound.
So silently
They suffer
As limbs drop to the ground.

As they hang dying
Piece by piece
This could be called “alarming.”
Instead this vile hell on earth
Is simply
“Modern farming.”

~It takes 25 minutes to turn a live steer into steak at the modern slaughterhouse where Ramon Moreno works. For 20 years, his post was “second-legger,” a job that entails cutting hocks off carcasses as they whirl past at a rate of 309 an hour. The cattle were supposed to be dead before they got to Moreno. But too often they weren’t.

“They die,” said Moreno, “piece by piece.”~

Red Light

At the place where highway 30
Crosses highway 109
I won’t forget that summer day
Your frightened eyes met mine.
Through tiny oval openings
In your hell on eighteen wheels
I stared into your guiltless soul
Now I know how terror feels.

Your back was bruised and bleeding
The result of panicked feet
Attached to desperate bodies
Slowly baking in the heat.
How long had you been traveling
Would you make it there alive
Without a drop of water
Just how long could you survive?

I knew where you were going
And that you could sense the sorrow
If you made it through this brutal trip
You’d still not see tomorrow.
Your hopeless eyes engulfed my heart
That August afternoon
For the first time I looked differently
At my fork, my knife and spoon.

I wanted more than anything
To take you from that truck
To quench your thirst and heal your wounds
To somehow change your luck.
I knew those eyes would haunt me
Such despair I’d never seen
So I made you a promise that fateful day
Just before the light turned green.

~According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, approximately 0.26 percent of transported pigs die each year as a result of transport — this translates to 260,000 pigs annually.~

Why Vegan?

Her desperate cries could brand a soul
With agonizing sorrow
When the newborn son she had today
Is stolen from her tomorrow
This broken heart won’t be her last
She’ll never be a mother
While misery seeps into milk
That’s swallowed by another.

The frantic way he kicks and fights
And tries to cling to life
While men in blood-soaked aprons
Coldly end it with a knife
How indifferently they slice and dice
What a horrifying fate
When muscle soaks up fear and pain
Ending up on someone’s plate.

Despair has overcome her mind
As she takes each labored breath
Feces coat the rusty bars
Inside she waits for death
For her the torment just won’t end
Though many more have died
Each egg absorbs depression
To be broken, flipped and fried.

When suffering is shrink-wrapped
It betrays so many lives
Few realize that they make a choice
With their spoons, their forks, and knives
When cruelty comes in a carton
And we can package pain
We must see past exteriors
We have so much to gain.

~For modern animal agriculture, the less the consumer knows about what’s happening before the meat hits the plate, the better. If true, is this an ethical situation? Should we be reluctant to let people know what really goes on, because we’re not really proud of it and concerned that it might turn them to vegetarianism?~ Peter Cheeke, PhD VeganOutreach.org

What If It Were Me

He’s just a baby yet he’ll never reach one
I could hide behind a smile
They travel without water in the scorching sun
Mile after mile
She’s fattened with babies that she’ll never know
I could go about my day
They’re denied any food because production is slow
It’s the American way.

He cries in the dark for a mother he needs
I could say he isn’t real
She’s dismembered alive when stunning doesn’t succeed
I could say she doesn’t feel
Chains hang heavy from his tender neck
I could say that I don’t care
She is desperate to move, they are desperate to peck
I could say that they aren’t there.

They are knee-deep in waste and writhe with disease
I could just close my eyes
To oozing sores and broken bones
To greed and corporate lies
They suffer in silence, their secrets well kept
I could just let it be
Instead I can’t stop thinking
What if it were me?

~The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past, which are still portrayed in children’s books, have been replaced by windowless metal sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems—what is now known as “factory farming.” Farmed animals have no legal protection from horrific abuses that would be illegal if they were inflicted on dogs or cats.~

My Eyes

There are times that it seems
My eyes are never dry
Every minute every single day
100,000 die.
For a pork chop, for a burger
Though innocent, they perish
While I mourn for beauty lost
A beauty so few cherish.

If I just closed my eyes
Life could be so good
But the darkness wouldn’t hide the truth now
Even if I could.
The truth is that compassion
Could end callousness and greed
But thousands more have just lost their lives
This moment as you read.

My eyes are far from perfect
But I will not go blind
By letting my heart harden
Or by narrowing my mind.
There is a price for seeing
Life can never be the same
But to me it’s not a choice
Because to them it’s not a game.

So once again I’ll wipe away
The tears that I have cried
And open others to the truth
For the billions that have died.

Because the heart beats under a covering of hair, of fur, feathers, or wings, it is, for that reason, to be of no account? ~Jean Paul Richter

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