Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.

- Mary Oliver

Pull out the dagger buried in my side.
Let me live.
Pull out your scent from my skin.
Let me live.
Give me a chance
To meet a new woman
To cross out your name from my diary
To cut the braids of your hair
Wrapped around my neck.
Give me a chance
To search for roads where
I have never walked with you,
For seats
Where I have never sat with you,
For places
That have no memory of you.
Give me a chance
To search for the women
Whom I left for you
And killed for you
So I can live again.

- Nizar Kabbani

Stray Dogs Master Subway System

Every so often, if you ride Moscow’s crowded subways, you notice that the commuters around you include a dog - a stray dog, on its own, just using the handy underground Metro to beat the traffic and get from A to B.

Yes, some of Moscow’s stray dogs have figured out how to use the city’s immense and complex subway system, getting on and off at their regular stops. The human commuters around them are so accustomed to it that they rarely seem to notice.

"In Moscow there are all sorts of stray dogs, but… there are no stupid dogs," Dr. Andrey Poyarkov, a biologist who has studied Moscow’s strays for 30 years, told ABC News.

As many as 35,000 stray dogs live in Russia’s capital city. They can be found everywhere, from markets to construction sites to underground passageways, scrounging for food and trying to survive. Taking the subway is just one of many tactics the strays have come up with for surviving in the manmade wilderness around them.

"The street is tough and it’s survival of the fittest," says Poyarkov. "These clever dogs know people much better than people know them."

Poyarkov says that only a small fraction of strays have figured out how to navigate the maze that is Moscow’s subway system. What’s most impressive about the subway dogs, says Poyarkov’s graduate student, Alexei Vereshchagin, is their ability to deal with the Metro’s loud noises and packed crowds, distractions that domesticated dogs often cannot handle.

"It’s stressful even for people standing in a crowd," he says, "and the dogs are lying down so no one is seeing them, so anyone can put feet on them. But they get used to this."

ABC News found a female stray in the Kievskaya station, and barely managed to follow her as she zipped between the legs of the bustling travelers around her to catch a ride on the Koltsevaya Line. Once on board, she settled down on the floor among the feet and legs, even dozed a bit, and occasionally got up for a brief conversation with a friendly human. She seemed to sense that such close quarters were no place to appear threatening.

Author Eugene Linden, who has been writing about animal intelligence for 40 years, told ABC News that Moscow’s resourceful stray dogs are just one of what are now thousands of recorded examples of wild, feral and domesticated animals demonstrating what appears, at least, to be what humans might call flexible open-ended reasoning and conscious thought.

Linden cites a wide variety of creatures ranging from captive orangutans and otters who frequently and slyly “trade” with their keepers, to a British cat famous for regularly taking the bus to a squirrel in Oklahoma who became a local hero when people began to notice that it regularly obeyed traffic signals when crossing a busy street.

"The take-away is that animals are not just passive in this," Linden told ABC News. "They are figuring out what we’re about and how they can game the system, and work it to their advantage as well."

Moscow’s strays have also been observed obeying traffic lights, says Vereshchagin. He and Poyarkov report the strays have developed a variety of techniques for hunting food in the wild metropolis. Sometimes a pack will send out a smaller, cuter member apparently realizing it will be more successful at begging than its bigger, less attractive counterparts.

Read more