Poetry by Havilah Barnett

“Ode to Vegans”
             By Havilah Barnett

You lettuce lip
        munching rose hip
goat worshiping
        ditch of the plastic
and everything drastic
flowering mercy from sleeves.
        You, grazing with sheep, elk
& gargling broccoli for pleasure.
        Sensitive baby, they say
(with lips still sucking
        the teat, on repeat, mouth open
no retreat, hands grasping
        they compete & compete)
while you refuse to eat
        this foul play: the world’s
most tortured prey. No,
        you don’t partake
in flesh that rots
        humanity, or free taste buds
to butcher wants to needs.
        Some recycle words
to recover excuses,
        others view empathy
with a rusted lens—
        blaming history for the way
it’s always been
. But survival
        should never mean prison:
Cows born to death row
        chicken-choked, nipple-yoked—
beat like piñatas.
        Guts turn candy, a reward
for the corrupt and supporting;
        a toast to the bones beneath
kitchen tables.
        You, shedding old diets
& starting riots.
        You, nesting stomachs full
with hefty gardens.
        You celebrate existence
full & alive & without
        feeding suffering.

- Havilah Barnett is an undergraduate student at the University of Central Missouri, where she also works as an intern for Pleiades: Literature in Context, and as poetry editor for Arcade magazine. She was awarded the Ginny McTighe Creative Writing Award (2022), and the Charles Francis Martin and Maude Williams Martin Memorial Scholarship.

Copyright©2022 by Havilah Barnett. All Rights Reserved.