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The Least of These

by Jared Carter

The Least of These

No, not a dream, but here, now.
A vast metal shed, where chickens
crammed in wire cages are hoisted
for slaughter -- to have their throats

slit mechanically, their feathers
boiled away, their corpses, already
inert, plumped up with chemicals.
Everything is computer-controlled.

But listen. With their last breaths,
as their suffering mounts, they whisper.
They are still able to call out to us.
Go, tell others that we perish here

in grim, unfathomable numbers --
unseen, unbefriended, unconsoled.
Call up the words, you who are safe
for a little while, and let others know:

"As ye have done it to the least of these,
ye have done it unto me." But in reality
chickens cannot speak, poets lack power,
nothing can stand up to the juggernaut.

Perhaps. But I will continue to search,
I will enter the next house, to descry
what infamy may be found there.
And I will bring it to you in this way.

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