Poem — Brian Turner

A Good Keen Man


What is it that a donkey sees in a man?’
– Paul Durcan

I am grubbing the bank, clearing
snarls of grass, buttercup, dock
and a few thistles
that feign death, Roots like pasta

twine in the earth that’s clagged
on my boots, and further
roots me here. Bernie the ram
leans on the fence, seeks food

and across the drive three pigs
squeal, piqued insatiables.
They trit-trot back
And forth, irascible little NCOs.

But what is it that a ram
sees in a man
that goes unnoticed in him?
What is it that pigs

want from a man that he hasn’t
excreted time and again?
And what is it that a man
sees in a pig’s eye, sniffs

with his snout, that he hasn’t
seen raised behind his back
or smelled in latrines
everywhere? The rain stinks of urine,

semen, shit and lanolin ‑ the pigs
pong less, but pong
redoubtedly. They don’t know
that I would eat them too

if need be, that grubs
will have us all, if fire
doesn’t, leaving but a snatched,
queasy whiff upon the air.

Brian Turner 



(From Brian Turner’s sixth collection of poems, Beyond, due out in November 1992, from John MacIndoe, Dunedin.)


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