When I enter the room. They know, as I enter and move the air and the air moves to

them, if I took my route with hurry, if I had eaten before this, if I had made love 

before this, if I prefer perfume, if I prefer scented or unscented soap, if I never wash,

if I had just come from the airplane or the subway station some blocks away, if I had

walked under low-branched trees, if I had walked on the grass, if I had walked past

the lilacs that are dying from blight, those lilacs planted on the walk between here

and the room, the leaves frosted, clenched, even when it is nearly spring, when it is 

already spring and it is not cold. They may recognize me. I come often. It is 

preferred that one minimizes scent during a visit. They are in cages made of clear 

plastic. Cages are organized onto shelves. Shelves are arranged in walls. Walls curl 

around in an effort to conserve room. The room’s light is red so as not to disturb. 

They are rustle. Are limited to five per cage. Are identified within each cage with a 

simple numbering system. It is almost primitive. It need only reach five because 

there are no more than five per cage. The punch to identify them with can be used to 

pierce other materials, such as paper. The region of their ear needs to be distal 

enough that only skin and not blood vessels are incised. The numbering is almost 

stupid. Right. Left. Both. No ear piercings. Two on one side. Two on one side are 

the difficult ones. One must decide whether to orient so that one faces them, the 

black beads of their eyes, the red beads of their eyes, the downward look of their 

eyes, the looking away of their faces. Or the other choice (which was my choice), to 

hold each facing away with two fingers at the neck, while reaching down with the 

metal implement, aligning it with its body, and clip out a part of its cupped ear.













The first thing it does

Is do a full backflip

Does the acrobatic mouse

Which rapidly explores

The perimeter come back

To where it started

To where it sensed

What makes its ribcage

Slope-shaped as when

Thumb touches fingertips

And shudder as if

The hand attempting

Breaking open the palm

And the mouse’s littermates

Put in the other room

And the pressurized gas

Put next to the airtight

Plastic cage

The shudders come more

Slowly and it looks

Over but backflips

The acrobatic mouse does

Before it stops blinking

I have been breathing


It stops blinking

It has not stopped breathing

Breathing is automatic

For the automatic mouse

The acrobat’s final routine

Undiscovered until now

That is automatic too

When abundance of wrong air

Triggers spasms clenching

I did not know I knew this

Final routine last encore

Possessed all along

This serious circus

Invented as it fumbles

Along the airtight seal

Not finding air not finding air

When I learned to swim

The feeling of too much water

The mouse in air like water

That is absolutely clear

Hay smell and excrement

Constant Nutrition and damp

In the cage of safety procedures


In the cage of incipience

In the cage of experimental

Outcomes and saving 

Your life with knowledge

Green chlorinated water I could

Shout could be heard belonged

To this side and now I come

To this side of the cage

My acrobatic mouse

Has finished its routine

Clawed feet won’t click

The sole sound of this process was

Rapid clicks on the walls

Backflip and drown

For our sake

The cage plastic smooth

No purchase to cling to

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