Rats

by Heathcote Williams

http://thisfragiletent.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/rat.jpg ?w=497&h=375

Rats are beating us
In a competition that
We’ve now dropped out of.
‘And what might that be ?
Why would we compete with rats ?
For food ? for water ?
Spreading diseases ?
Performing on a treadmill
As it spins around ?

None of the above.
It’s empathy.  Compassion.
They’re in the lead there,
For they’ll always help
Another rat in distress.

Even when something
Else, like chocolate —
A rat’s favorite treat —
Is offered instead.
A rat will spurn it
To help another escape —
They’ll worry away
At a little door
And open it from outside,
Until the trapped rat
Is liberated.

Then, when it’s been freed,
The pair seem to dance.
The rat that’s released
Will then follow the other
One round for hours
Licking it, to show
Its appreciation.

When a rat baby
Cries, other infant
Rats, the babies in the nest,
Will cry out in sympathy.

Rats give their children
Toys to play with, bits of stick.
All of these reactions
Show the rat has a
Neuro – biological
Mandate to help rats.
It’s rat altruism.

Rat poison doesn’t
Fool them, they’re intelligent;
Not nightmare robots.

The street activist, Charlie
Of the Love Police,
Set up a series
Of human experiments

In the financial
District of London.
He appeared to have a knife
Sticking in his chest.

Spread – eagled in the street,
He looked as if he was dead.
Blood was oozing out.
A friend filmed the experiment:
The passers – by ignored Charlie.
They were on their way
To their offices.
They left Charlie where he was.
Money and mortgages trumped
Saving someone’s life;
The passers – by chose chocolate
Over helping someone. 

Could this perhaps prove
That in a profit – driven
Economy like ours
Compassion is rare
Since it slows things down ?

Yes, rats’ll leave sinking ships
But that’s common sense;
Humanity’s so – called ‘rat – race’
Seems to slander rats.

Social cohesion
In cockroaches is tight too:
They don’t borrow money
To fight wars, only to be crushed
By debt mountains.

Rats and cockroaches
Test our comfort zones . . .
It’s best that we despise them
To know who we are.
Though, of course, we’re them . . .

In the year 2000,
Chinese scientists
Unearthed a fossil
125 million years old.

They gave it a name,
‘Eomaia Scansoria’
Or Dawn Mother.

This tiny tree – rat
Was a placental rodent —
A cunning, and curious
Tree – hugging shrew
Which, when it was free
Of dinosaur predators,
Turned into us.

We were rats once.
Now we’re ex – rats —
Self – hating ex – rats,

While Rattus Rattus,
The unevolved rat,
May be the happiest in its own skin
And see human revulsion
As laughable.

Rats can laugh.
Tickling them, and slowing down
Their vocalizations reveals laughter:
High pitched sounds of enjoyment.

Rats then follow the hand that tickles them,
And nudge it until it tickles them again.
Rats can get us to make them laugh.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/09/study – shows -lab – rats – would – rather – free – a – friend – than – eat – chocolate/