Progress and The Civilised

TLC – Testing on little Children

Running out of cures for this and that;
the dead soon become fossils too
to be poked around
for the twenty-sixth
forty-seventh time. By the sixtieth

they give up the ghost; outstretched
moat peels back off the dissecting
table; rusty, bubbled, singed about
the edges like an oven-crisped pizza


The animals said they weren’t too keen
on internet testing either: the e-pigs
complained of repetitive strain injury
from being rammed back and forth
through the hard drive. The e-rats
regretted a permanent state of epilepsy
from being tin-packed behind the
monitor screen. Whilst the e-chimps
had become fatally addicted to Apebook,
Banana Fritter and Yahoo-hoo-hoo.

Free love was reported to have hit
an all-time low, as have Swinger Club
and Shag & Carry loyalty cards.

It seemed the e-animals were simply
not coming up with the goods.
Nothing new. Nothing new.
ICI losing its welly.
Pfizer, its soul.

The chief neurologist scratched her head.
The chief pharmacist picked at his scalp.
They eyed each other slyly, the spotlight
of skin-shavings they were stamping around in,
before cagily turning their attentions towards
the two hundred children playing football
beyond the fence-trim

with an out-of-date dialysis bag.

Who would even notice?

There was milk and maize and medicine
to haul them in by the cartload. Just this

whilst the pigs made the most of maternity
leave, the rats taking to the couch
quack in hand, and the chimps, by now
almost asexual, underwent the town’s
most prestigious fertility reawakening
programme: Oestrus all over.

Just this once
whilst business is bad
because there are medicines to be made
and bills to be paid. And if we can’t invent
new drugs,

we’ll just have to invent new disease.

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