Four Poems

By Heidi Stephenson

Animals Respect

Blending black and white
in perfect union

Reflecting ancient
Brother/Sisterhood

Racoon, zebra, panda,
orca, tapir, penguin,

osprey, lemur, badger,
anteater, skunk,

stand
united with

Californian King snake,
Siberian husky,

Dalmatian dog,
Holstein cow –

that none
should be judged

for their pigment-producing
capacities.

…Nature’s own stand,
against racism.

The Silencing of Everyday Evil

No rodeos.
No bull ‘fights.’
No animal circuses.

No horse ‘races.’
No betting
to bleed.

No fox-hunting.
No badger ‘culling.’
No ‘vermin’ murdering.

No shoppers
at live animal
‘markets.’

Fewer torturers
in laboratories.
More vegans.

More broken hearts,
beginning
to crack open.

The earth at rest.
Clean air
over China.

Lobsters safe,
now the boats
are tied up.

Shy elk
on Oregon beaches,
in plain sight.

The croaking
…of endangered
toads.

The tentative
dawning
of a new Sanity.

Several reasons
to be cheerful.
(Much work
yet to do.)

When the World Went Quiet

And we remembered
what it felt like
just to… be.

To stop all
the frantic
striving, vying, doing.

And our hearts softened
to spider, slug and slow worm.
And we began to learn their ways.

And we stretched
our jaded limbs
in the Spring-warmth.

Next to the cats
we rolled;
in dew with dogs.

And we gained a new respect
for asparagus, pea green, nettle,
for their stoic journeys.

And we looked
with fresh love
at the unfolding flowers.

And were grateful
for the yellow blaze;
all that divine dancing.

And we filled our ears
with the harmonies
of many birds singing.

And we witnessed
the emerging joy
of our animal kin…

when the World
went quiet.

The Saviour

Picus, you Paradise yaffler!
You merciful, mossy,
pea-green-Perfect!

Did you really dart
across this dulled lens
of pain-stained perception?

Was it you who graced
my morn of mourning
in the ghostly eucalyptus tops?

Who laughed away the tear clouds?
Who splintered the sun
with your Divine Deca doses?

Oh you marvellous,
mindful,
unmelodious
maverick.

The Silencing of Everyday Evil and When the World Went Quiet were first published in the International Times, and are reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

Heidi Stephenson: “The lockdown was a liberation for me, despite the heavy context; a beautiful opportunity to spend time in nature and creatively fertile. It felt like a return to the 70s before we destroyed so much, and so many. The bird song was breathtaking. I really hope this global crisis wakes us all up, and that our violent paradigm of human dominionism, our arrogant speciesism which causes so much death, destruction and suffering, finally ends now.” 

Heidi Stephenson is a Devon-based poet-activist. She writes poetry for International Times and AllCreatures.org and has just completed her first collection Animal RIGHTS: Poetry activism for our brothers and sisters.

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Catherine
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Catherine
1 month ago

I really enjoyed Heidi’s poems.
I particularly love and resonate with ‘when the world went silent’, it is so evocative of the early days of lockdown this spring. It is beautifully written and a poignant reminder b cause it felt like a blessing in disguise!

Alexa Kesselaar
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Alexa Kesselaar
1 month ago

Heidi is a magical poet – she sums up everything so beautifully with compassion as well as a brilliant use of language. Only someone with such an empathetic understanding of cruelty and injustice can write like this, but she does it so well. I find her writing so uplifting in these difficult times – not just national crises but the daily onslaught of cruelty to other beings who deserve so much more. So I give thanks to someone who can express it so well.

L. Lemieux
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L. Lemieux
1 month ago

As always, Heidi’s poetry takes us by the hand and invites us to consider, to feel and to step up. Thank you.

Tanya Walls
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Tanya Walls
1 month ago

The four poems build to tell a story of celebration, harmony and hope. A glimpse of a better world for us all. Poignant and quietly powerful. Thank you Heidi.

Claire Williamson
Guest
1 month ago

I love the animal framing on black and white – I’d never thought if that before. Sadness too at the return of ‘everyday cruelty’.

Matt Harvey
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Matt Harvey
1 month ago

These are beautiful poems. I particularly warmed, post-lockdown, to When the World Went Quiet. But they all touch me.

Amanda
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Amanda
1 month ago

Four pieces of inspiration, celebrating the creatures that we ignore at our peril, that may outlive our species. Thank you Heidi Stephenson for reminding us what matters in such a beautiful way.

Sharon Howe
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Sharon Howe
1 month ago

I really enjoyed these poems. A powerful message but conveyed in a thoughtful and imaginative way – the clever take on “colour” in Animals Respect, for instance, or the sensuous appeal of When the World Went Quiet. And how refreshing to see a wider perspective on the subject than the usual narrowly human view – a much-needed reminder to a self-absorbed species that it’s “not all about us”.

Dex Finch
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Dex Finch
1 month ago

Oh you marvelous, mindful, melodious maverick!

Lilamani
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Lilamani
1 month ago

Beautiful words of wisdom. I can truly relate. A thoughtful piece of work and a pleasure to read. Thanks Heidi.

Claire Palmer
Guest
1 month ago

Heidi really captures the precious beauty of the natural world and the precarious danger it faces. Her poetry should be on school syllabuses to educate the next generations, who will have to deal with the problems. This vitally important and eloquently delivered poetry is a wonderful vehicle to assist us all in this.

Veda Stram
Guest
1 month ago

I always adore Heidi’s work because I am not a poet, I am an activist and spend my life dwelling in the apparently endless numbers and kinds of horrors we humans inflict on animals. Each of Heidi’s works reawakens in me the deep love and profound respect for animals that brought me to activism.

Lesley Booker
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Lesley Booker
1 month ago

Pertinent pithy poems for this time. I particularly love ‘When the World Went Quiet’ – beautiful – I so feel how that was!

Elspeth Crichton Stuart
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Elspeth Crichton Stuart
1 month ago

Oh Heidi Stephenson, your poems have touched me deeply…….my sister commented that Coronavirus was the result of the way we treat animals and you have put this into poetic form. Beautiful and I look forward to seeing the anthology. Thankyou from Elly

Mrs H Beer
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Mrs H Beer
1 month ago

I loved these poems. Reflect how I am feeling post lockdown. Surely this is a time for change. Really resonated with me. Thank you!

wendy stayte
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wendy stayte
1 month ago

I loved When the world went quit, and The silencing of evil, both rejoicing in the slowness and time to wonder and discover anew other beings, and ‘break open our hearts’ Such a poignant reminder of the need toheal our own frozen or wounded heart to allow in the love and compassion for the rest of the world.
Thank you,Heidi.

Ruth
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Ruth
1 month ago

Wow 😮 beautiful poems

Maureen Rolls
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Maureen Rolls
1 month ago

Very appropriate and heart felt poems

lara sportelli
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lara sportelli
1 month ago

Very beautifully written words that resonate so well. I have an appaloosa with black and brown spots on a white coat. Lockdown represented the same liberation for me too. The world slowing down, the stillness and every beautiful sound of nature heard.
Thank you, lara.

Ali
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Ali
1 month ago

What serene poetry, beautifully written and so compelling. I sincerely hope these poems will have a place in history, to remind us all that despite the hardships many have faced during the Covid Crisis, that the beauty of nature, the wonder of animals were always among us. With the enforced quietening of our world, nature had more opportunity to shine through and remind us of its beauty and the uplifting effects it can have on our mind, body and spirit……..we must protect what we have. Thank you for these poems x

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