A poem from the view of a chimp in cruel captivity
This sad poem reflects on the life of Jerome, a chimp held in captivity until his death. Treated cruelly, as though his life didn't matter at all, and treated as simply an object for experimentation and observation by uncaring human hands, till he died, this poem asks you to look from their eyes and how they feel.
Have you ever gazed into the eyes of a chimp
As he’s carried away lifeless and limp?
Did you ever think it to be a look of disdain
Directed at man, the cause of his pain?
Have you ever wondered how it feels, what to think
About spending each day of your life on the brink?
When I was merely a child about to turn three
Did you know I was injected with HIV?
And when it was discovered that I fought off this strain,
I was to be reinfected again and again!
Have you ever been confined by four walls of cement,
Kept away from your friends, no one hears you lament?
Did you ever have diarrhoea for six months or more
With never a treatment allowed through your door?
Have you ever been so weak that you can’t turn your head
And you hardly had the strength to get down from your bed?
Were you ever deprived of medicine that could make you strong
After you suffered each day for so long?
Were you ever submitted to permanent isolation
Till your character changes as a result of frustration?
Have you ever watched your friends more than ten feet away
While knowing that they’ll never come visit or play?
Were you ever upset and put your thumbs in your ears
Hoping that man goes away and with him you fears?
Do you know what it’s like to have a gun aimed at your face
And hope that it misses as you sway and you pace?
Have you ever been told that your social life’s fine
Never asking the reason for you moral decline?
Have you ever been locked in a cage every night
Not knowing what awaits you in the coming daylight?
Did you ever have pneumonia and shortness of breath
And accept the cold fact that man wished your death?
Did you think I’d survive each new virus strain
Every prick from a needle, did you not feel my pain?
Have you ever held a mirror and see your tongue has turned grey
As everyone sits back and thinks – that’s ok?
Have you ever hung on to each glimmer of hope
Without realising you’ve reached the end of your rope?
Do you know what it’s like to be left in this state
Where there’s no one to help you, man determines your fate?
Have you ever dreamt of escape to a wonderful place
To feel grass on your feet and cool breeze on your face?
Do you know with my many doses of HIV strain
Nothing important was learned, no purpose was gained?
Will I ever forgive man for what he has done to me?
Maybe the day he decides to let chimpanzees be.
This is my story, Jerome was my name.
Dying of AIDS was my claim to fame.
On February 13th in a room called Necropsy
Was the day I received my final biopsy.
My life was cut short, I died at fourteen.
And to all those involved it was part of routine.
Near the end I thought I was losing my mind
How else could I show I was mad at mankind?
My whole life a yerkes was a horrid nightmare
'Cause I gave to research much more than my share.
Yet, as I think of my life I remember one friend
Who remained by my side to the very end
The person who gave me that small yellow ring
Which was tossed in my cage in the great ape wing
Twas the only possession I considered my own
It got me through the days when my heart turned to stone
Now I must go, though there’s much more to say
But I vow to come back and tell you one day.
Copyright 2008 Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Save The Primates
Reproduction of this poem requires written permission..
Find out more about the plight of chimps in Animal & Primate Experimentation - Cruelty or "Science"?