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Moon bears inspire poets

Some time back in the space of a week, two beautiful poems arrived by email from the UK. The first by Lorraine Thomas who is coordinator of our Cheshire & Wirral Support Group and the second by Richard Bonfield, Poet in Residence for Born Free whose Founder Virginia McKenna is of course our UK Patron.

Richard recently launched his new book of poems, “Animated Nature” with a cover beautifully illustrated by artist Pollyanna Pickering who has recently sponsored one of our newly rescued Vietnam bears – Polly – and inspired Richard’s poem after her visit to our sanctuary with daughter Anna Louise. Richard’s book is available through Born Free.

Thank you both Lorraine and Richard for your wonderful talent – and for your empathy for how the bears continue to suffer.

Chengdu Dawn

In the deep of dark despair
Abandoned creatures ’biding there,
Deceived by nature to declare,
Their oriental beauty,
Envied by the avid few
For their secreted bitter hue.

Snared and stored in rigid tombs,
Yoked by golden crescent moons
To grasping fingers sucking bile,
While others turn away awhile
To sip the potions and hope to share
The wholesome secrets of the bear.

Vile ingestion born of greed,
Professed to meet their wanton need.
In time they’ll find a baseness there
And truth will come to know the bears
With fortitude withstand their pain,
Whilst dealers leech to count their gain.

A glint of light breaks their stare,
A dauntless stranger standing there,
Dressed in black with golden hair
They took her for a fellow bear
And beckoned her into the gloom,
She breathed the dankness of the room.

A curious paw uncurled and stretched
towards the other’s fur and touched
instead a naked palm,
A human hand that knew no harm.
The bear she looked and held the gaze
Comfort and compassion raised,
She pressed each cushion one by one

And found that help had come.

Lorraine Thomas
21 March 2010


Moon Bear: For Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia, Virginia McKenna, patron of Animals Asia, Pollyanna Pickering and Anna-Louise who are all doing what they can to end this barbaric practice.

I cannot move – I am not free
I cannot climb the lovely trees
A prisoner in my iron lung
I cannot see the morning sun
I cannot see the evening moon
Disabled in my steel cocoon
I spend my life in caged eclipse
A scream pours from my blameless lips
I do not know what forest is
I cannot bear to be like this
I cannot amble through the mist
I am a number on a list
My instincts here are all in chains
My inner bear is all deranged
Like orphans chained to stinking beds
I cannot use my arms and legs
I’m crucified for mankind’s greed
I cannot climb the lovely trees
I do not know what freedom means
A Death’s Head haunts my waking dreams
I’m trapped inside this living hell
Incarcerated in my cell
I cannot be my moon bear self
My bile is milked for human “health”
I do not have an aim in life
I do not have a moon bear wife
I just exist to make my bile
To help my master live in style...
I’m told that there are moon bear trees
The droning sound of honey bees
I’m told that there is life beyond
But do not have a magic wand
I’m spread-eagled in mortal pain
I’m crucified for mankind’s gain
I cannot move – I am not free
I cannot climb the lovely trees
I am a moon bear – find the key
Release me from my misery.

Richard Bonfield c March 2010
Born Free Poet in Residence

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