Posted by: Dan | September 8, 2013

Ruby’s Squirrels

In Iraq babies are being born with all sorts of deformities.  And we’re not talking cleft lips or shortened limbs or missing/extra digits on their hands or feet.  We’re talking about babies that look like this:


And this:



I don’t want to see anymore.


These babies are thought to be one of the long-term effects of the Depleted Uranium that the Americans used with the shells and bullets they poured into the Iraqi people and the Iraqi land and the Iraqi water and the Iraqi air… not to mention the animals, and plants and creeping things.

The Americans are a lot like the God they worship.  They are jealous and, if you go astray, they will visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation.


I remember when my children were born.  I remember when both of their heads started crowning.  I remember when they emerged from the water and the body and the blood of my wife and began to breath and began to cry.  I remember holding them and saying hello and saying I love you and saying you’re beautiful and saying it’s so good to meet you.

I wonder if that’s what the Iraqi parents said to their babies.  To the one’s that survived, anyway.  Some were born with organs on the outside instead of on the inside.  Some were born without all their organs.  Some weren’t able to live very long.  Some were already dead.

What does it do to a woman to carry a child marked and set apart for death because some people on the other side of the world decided they wanted something that was connected to you and decided to take it in just about the most vicious way imaginable?  What does it do to a father to see his beloved son or daughter born this way?  What would it do to me?


I don’t want to know anymore.


King Saul fell on his sword
When it all went wrong
And Joseph’s brother sold him down the river for a song
And Sonny Liston rubbed some tiger balm into his glove

Some things you do for money
And some you do for love love love

Raskolnikov felt sick
And he couldn’t say why
When he saw his face reflected
In his victim’s twinkling eye

Some things you’ll do for money
Some you’ll do for fun
But the things you do for love are gonna come back to you
One by one

Love love is gonna lead you be the hand
Into a white and soundless place

Now we see things
As in a mirror dimly
Then we shall see each other
To face

And way out in Seattle,
Young Kirk Cobain
Snuck out to the greenhouse
And put a bullet in his brain

Snakes in the grass beneath our feet
Rain in the clouds above
Some moments last forever
But some flair out
With love love love


Scientists at Tufts University have grown ectopic eyes on the bodies of tadpoles and then removed the other eyes – the one’s in their heads – in order to study how the brain and body adapt to major changes.  Apparently this is an important question in regenerative medicine, bioengineering, and sensory augmentation research, although it’s probably not a question the tadpoles were asking.


The Vacanti Mouse was a mouse that had an ear-shaped structure grown on its back by seeding cow cartilage cells into a biodegradable ear-shaped mold implanted under its skin.  Scientists in South Korea created glow-in-the-dark cats which then became the mothers of their own cloned selves.  By adding mouse DNA and some E Coli Bacteria to a pig embryo, another group of geniuses created a pig that produced significantly less phosphorus than other pigs.  Meanwhile, the good folks over at Nexia Biotechnologies created a goat that produced spiders’ web protein in its milk.  Philip Morris still tests various carcinogenic blends on mice and rats, even though it also now tests its products on human lung tissue that it grows in its labs.  Elsewhere:

“In 2011, Pfizer experimented on nearly 50,000 animals—including 2,557 dogs, 1,159 primates, 452 cats, 7,076 guinea pigs, 31,560 hamsters, 5,512 rabbits, 1,680 gerbils, and 161 horses—in its own laboratories. More than 15,000 of these animals were forced to endure painful experiments, and more than 6,000 were denied pain relief. These numbers don’t even include mice and rats or any of the animals tormented for Pfizer experiments in contract testing laboratories.”

The same is true of every other major pharmaceutical company I looked up.  And don’t forget that producing all of these animals to be caged and tortured and killed is a big money business, too!  Thanks so much, Charles River Laboratories.


Already, back in the ‘50s, Vladimir Demikhov was creating two-headed dogs by transplanting the head of one dog, onto the body of another.  This inspired Harvard-grad, Dr. Robert White, to do the same thing with monkeys in the ‘70s. The monkeys were all paralyzed in the process and, after being studied for awhile, they were killed. I’m not sure what they studied them for… “yep, that there is a two-headed monkey”… but I’m sure they learned something.


We create and we destroy like gods but we are monsters, we are monsters, we are monsters.


I don’t want to learn anymore.


My daughter, my Ruby Violet Beloved, who isn’t really “mine,” (she isn’t a “thing” to be owned, I know), but whom I adore, still gets excited and points and laughs and kicks her feet around when she sees a squirrel.  “Squirrel!  Squirrel!” she yells in a bubbly voice overflowing with happiness.  Because, yeah, it’s a squirrel.  Probably the 173rd one we’ve seen today.  And she loves it.  Loves it to pieces and thinks it is the most wonderful and exciting and pretty thing in the world.  And she’s right.  It is.


My daughter has five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot.  She has two arms and two legs and all her organs, and they’re all on the inside where they’re supposed to be.  She can’t even imagine a person wanting to cut open an animal or cause it to grow new parts (before it is killed) because that person is curious about such questions as “how do the body and mind respond to dramatic changes?”  Nor can she imagine a person wanting to cut open human beings with munitions that cause those left behind to have babies that grow new parts (before they, too, are killed by the mutations).  She can’t imagine any of these things.  Because she is a child and she is white and she is middle-classed and she was born into a part of the world where Depleted Uranium wasn’t anywhere close to her mother when she was pregnant.



I don’t know how to express the kind of love she makes me feel in my heart.  I think about her and I think about my Charlie (who also isn’t really “mine”, I know, but whom I adore) and I think about how dear and wonderful they are and how good they are, how good it is for the world that they exist, how they are a gift to me and to us and to each other… and then I think about Ruby’s squirrels and I think of how they, too, are a gift… and then I think about those puppies in those labs and those monkeys and those pigs and those mice and I think about what we do with gifts, and I think about those kids in Iraq and I think about what we do with each other, and I think, “that girl born with no face, that’s my Ruby, too,” and I think, “that boy born with no lungs, that’s my Charlie, too” and I think, “that puppy in that lab, that’s Ruby’s squirrel, too,” and then my mind kinda loses track of itself and forgets which way is up and mistakes colours for words and lights for sounds, and I find myself weeping and weeping and weeping, like Rachel in Ramah mourning for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more.


I wish I could take it all back.  Everything I’ve seen.  Everything I’ve learned.  Everything I can do nothing about, if, at least, I want to be around to care for my children.  And I do want to be around to care for my children.  All I want, now, is to be a good father to my kids for as long as they want me to be.  All I want now is to love and to be loved.


Sometimes, when walking around with a broken heart, you forget to be kind to others.  Sometimes, when overwhelmed by the violence of the world, you forget to be gentle with others.  Sometimes, when blinded by tears, it is hard to see the beauty in everyone.  I have often been unkind.  I have often been harsh.  I have often been blind.  I’m trying to change that now.  I hope you’ll bear with me.


By the time that we woke up,
We couldn’t stop the sparks,
We couldn’t see outside,
When the curtains fell apart.

We couldn’t hear the books
When the pages curled away.
We should shut that window we both left open now.

We lost our chance to run,
Now the door’s too hot to touch.
We should hold our breaths with mouths together now.


  1. Beautifully difficult. Thanks Dan.

  2. Oh Hell.

  3. your words have made my lips, my heart and my mind silent – sometimes there is no apt response but intentional silence

  4. *exhale*

    Great track by The Antlers.

  5. […] was sad and scared and overwhelmed and lonely and hurting.  It had all become too much for me.  I wrote a blog post at that time, where I tried to communicate some of this.  In that post I concluded: I don’t want to see any […]

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