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Clade Song 3 Left

Clade Song 3

While being grateful*

I will thank heaven for goats,
all goats, but especially
the ones used to test Kevlar
against bullets, the ones
who probably looked curiously
with their golden eyes at this funny yellow fabric
being fastened onto them, wondering
if it was good to eat.  Thank you, goats,
who were killed or whose bones were broken
or badly bruised in the line of duty.
Thank you, goats, who have saved 3,000 lives
and more from being taken by those careless
of life, who have no concern for anyone’s sacrifice,
neither of humans nor of goats.

I will thank heaven for dogs,
the dogs who did not have diabetes
back in 1889 but were in the lab of two researchers
each dog whose pancreas was extracted to recreate diabetes, each dog who died
as if of diabetes soon after.  Thank you, dogs,
and everyone else who did not ask to serve a higher cause, but
who saved more lives than anyone can begin to count,
both of humans and of dogs.



*on an obituary for Lester Shubin, who with Nicholas Montanarelli and many “unfortunate goats,” developed the Kevlar vest from a DuPont fabric originally designed to replace steel belting on tires.

Mr. Small and the Changing Seasons

Clade Song 3 right

Janet Bowdan’s poems have appeared in APR, Denver Quarterly, Smartish Pace, Tinfish, Free State Review, Poetry Daily, Best American Poetry 2000 and others.  She edits Common Ground Review ( and teaches English at Western New England University. She lives in Northampton with her husband, son and (sometimes) stepdaughters.