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video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 9/2/15 show “Like a Lamb to the Slaughter” in her feature at Poetry At The Gallery Cabaret in Chicago (Canon fs200), with her poems Entering the Lake of Fire, unless it happens to you, Open Book, electromagnetism, an edited version of the poem Everything was Alive and Dying, Death Takes Many Forms, and Under the Sea.
video video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 9/2/15 show “Like a Lamb to the Slaughter” in her feature at Poetry At The Gallery Cabaret in Chicago (Canon Power Shot), with her poems Entering the Lake of Fire, unless it happens to you, Open Book, electromagnetism, an edited version of her poem Everything was Alive and Dying, Death Takes Many Forms, and Under the Sea.
the “Like a Lamb to the Slaughter” 9/2/15 chapbookthe “Like a Lamb to the Slaughter” 9/2/15 chapbook
Get this poem in the free chapbook
Like a Lamb to the Slaughter

with all of the poems read 9/2/15 at Poetry at the Gallery Cabaret show in Chicago.
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video 2/4/17
of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “Praying to Idols” and “Unless it Happens to You” at the Bahá’í Faith Center (Canon Power Shot SX700).
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video 2/4/17
of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “Praying to Idols” and “Unless it Happens to You” at the Bahá’í Faith Center (Canon Power Shot SX60).

unless it happens to you

Janet Kuypers
started 8/20/15 finished 8/21/15

unless it happens to you,
you don’t think it matters,
and you think the violence
just rolls off you like water.

-

After your commute home
you flop on the couch
and grab the remote
to turn on the tv.
See the digital screen
and note how different
digital static looks from
your old cathode ray tube,
then flip to the news.
MSNBC has a talking head
relaying the injustices
of a black man shot dead
during a Ferguson protest,
shot after he pointed a gun
at a police officer.

Click.

Turn to FOX News,
and their talking head
mentions another attack,
a few Marines were killed
defending an outpost
on foreign soil.

You think for a moment
about the men you know
who went to war.
They fought for our country.
You sigh.

Click.

Wait, there has to be something
to relieve my sprits,
some comedy maybe, something,
but —

but watching actors
act like they’re someone else
is the last thing I need,
when that is all
all of us do
every day
already.

So, turn to the laptop,
scan the Internet’s stories.
Hmmm. They’re still
lambasting a dentist
who paid a ton of money
so he could trophy shoot a lion
and feel like a big man.
And the thing is,
people are in an uproar about this,
this one lion’s life is their crusade...
People living in Africa
kill lions for survival.
I’ll bet most of those protesters
still like a burger at lunch,
but forming flesh out of this one lion,
to them is just too unjust.
It’s like they idolize this lion,
like a drawing from the Lion King
and think this killer
is a noble beast.

And I’m sorry,
whether or not
these protesters support war,
I’ll bet they think more
about this one lion
than they ever would
about the death of our Marines.

I stare at my screen.
I don’t want to turn it off.
Because I think I can immerse myself
in other people’s problems
and not think twice about them —
because it doesn’t affect you
unless it happens to you.

All that’s stuck in your head
is the traffic on the expressway
that made your day late enough
to say, screw dinner,
I’ll just eat some leftovers
and try to unwind
in front of the boob tube.
So you dejectedly give up
and turn to the tv again,
resort to network stations
and bounce between shows
dedicated to Hollywood gossip...

Entertainment Tonight
highlights a movie star
(you don’t know if she was famous
before she got her boob job)
but this woman just found out
she has cancer.
And you think of the cancer
that has raced through your family,
picking out loved ones
like they were targets
in a firing squad,
and without remembering
the female actor’s name
you have to change the channel
and get away from this.

Click.

oh, now it’s TMZ,
and they’ve found Jenny McCarthy,
yeah, the playboy bunny,
the MTV girl, that one,
the one who had a child with Autism
and deduced that the Autism
had to be the fault of... vaccination.
She’s the woman who made it her crusade,
without any empirical evidence,
to convince squadrons of mothers
to not vaccinate their kids.

You know, there was a measles outbreak
recently, down at Disney Land.
Measles, in Disney Land. You heard me right.
There is now a Measles outbreak
in the United States.

But TMZ just went to commercial,
so time to surf until I stumble
on another web page
for another set of actresses
who claimed Bill Cosby
sexually assaulted them.
They didn’t know they were drugged,
which relinquished their right to consent.
New York magazine even showed
thirty-five of his alleged victims
all sitting in chairs,
in rows, on their cover.

And it made me think
of the women who came to me
with their stories of being raped,
some were sixteen,
their boyfriend was older,
they didn’t know what to do.
Some were given too much to drink,
while their housemates were given more,
so they wouldn’t be awake to hear.
All of them were scarred,
it wouldn’t go away,
and they didn’t even have
the physical bruises
to justify their constant pain,
and —

and I just wanted to watch
some mindless tv.
Even if it was about horrors,
I thought I could just tune it out,
because I’ve always thought
that it doesn’t affect you
unless it happens to you.
But I clicked and I clicked
until I made it relate to me,
and that made it happen to me.

All of their horrors
are now my horrors.
The protesting life now lost on the streets.
The ones who were armed,
killed for doing their job.
The cancer.
The disease.
The rape.

And the more I think about it,
the more I think
that we all go through this pain.
We know someone who had cancer.
We know someone who was raped.
In a way, we’ve all been attacked,
we’ve seen death up close,
and time heals all wounds,
they say,
so we’ve learned to deal with it,
to tuck those horrendous memories
deep inside us
and live with the pain
that somewhere deep inside
always burns,
even as we try to forget.

We wear this like an old bath robe,
an old pair of slippers,
something comfortable,
and all this trauma
becomes a second skin.
Some thing we’ve had for so long
that we forget when it started,
when it all first started,
but good or bad,
it’s almost like
we can’t live without it now.
We don’t know how to go back
and live any other way.

And we look at the tv
and we blink blindly at the horrors
and completely forget
when horror
stopped horrifying us.

We wonder.

And once again,
we click.


Copyright © Janet Kuypers.

All rights reserved. No material
may be reprinted without express permission.



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