Jennings, Fabian

Canada, (b. 1942)

Pigs

  1.  
  2. My friends, it is the poet’s job
  3. To bring the public beauty,
  4. But though he must uplift the mob,
  5. He has another duty.
  6.  
  7. He must as well hold forth the lamp
  8. Which reveals the public’s morals.
  9. He must if he’s to bear the stamp,
  10. “Deserving of his laurels”.
  11.  
  12. So now my pen I put to use
  13. To do what I am able
  14. To halt a criminal abuse
  15. Embodied in a fable.
  16.  
  17. There is a tale afoot these days
  18. (An epitome of falseness),
  19. About the coarse and vulgar ways
  20. Of pigs at summer solstice.
  21.  
  22. About this time of year, it goes,
  23. In filth the pig will wallow.
  24. It is the one place where he knows
  25. The hotness cannot follow.
  26.  
  27. And so it’s said he loves to sport
  28. In dirty, stagnant water,
  29. And muck and mud of every sort
  30. He soaks up like a blotter.
  31.  
  32. The tale has brought the pig to shame;
  33. It is but little wonder.
  34. He carries now a sullied name;
  35. A cloud he travels under.
  36.  
  37. “Get out of here you filthy pigs”,
  38. “Don’t be a hog, my chappy.” –
  39. Just two of countless dirty digs
  40. That make the beast unhappy.
  41.  
  42. And if he chose to be unclean,
  43. I would not be protesting.
  44. Excusing filthiness, I mean,
  45. Is quite beyond digesting.
  46.  
  47. But “Oh!”, he’d say, had he a voice,
  48. “Why, sir, that water’s muddy,
  49. And I’ll not bathe, if I’ve a choice,
  50. In anything so cruddy.
  51.  
  52. Now, if you fear I lead you on,
  53. I can tell you that I’m reading
  54. A proof that’s in a book upon
  55. Experimental breeding.
  56.  
  57. It is all there in black and white:
  58. How baby pigs were tested;
  59. How one can teach them what is right,
  60. And what’s to be detested;
  61.  
  62. How they can learn that water clear
  63. In ponds with bottoms sandy
  64. Is always best, it has no peer,
  65. E’en if some mud is handy.
  66.  
  67. And so you see we must not harm,
  68. Or think the piggy piggish;
  69. Since, given proper choice of farm,
  70. He might have grown up priggish.
  71.  
  72. Oh, I expect that at this point,
  73. With barely time for pauses,
  74. Some will decide I’m out of joint,
  75. And backing idle causes.
  76.  
  77. “While cruelly man his fellow flogs –
  78. He hardly needs a reason –
  79. This fool’s the champion of hogs!
  80. Now, that is surely treason.”
  81.  
  82. And so you see that I’m aware
  83. How some, indeed, deride me,
  84. But ‘tis a trifling thing to bear,
  85. For I have truth beside me.
  86.  
  87. Yes, science shows what God intends –
  88. You know it does. You know it! –
  89. So let the truth prevail, my friends,
  90. And may your actions show it.
  91.  
  92. We must love all, both man and beast.
  93. Our love must be unbiased.
  94. Until we’ve learned to love the least,
  95. We cannot love the highest.
  96.  
  97. Hence, give the pig a proper bath;
  98. The best of food and housing,
  99. And once a month, if need he hath,
  100. An adequate delousing.
  101.  
  102. Nor have yet e’en a jot of fear
  103. That you’ll not be applauded,
  104. For when God sees your efforts here,
  105. Your virtue will be lauded.
  106.  
  107. In fact, I’d not be shocked to see,
  108. If all these steps were taken,
  109. How we might get, by God’s decree,
  110. Less fat upon our bacon.

© Fabian Jennings. Pigs… monkies… crocodiles – Three poems. Chilliwack, BC (1974?). This is limited edition folio of 500 with illustrations by Tony Urquhart.

Uncle Ray Steps In

  1. Time to breed the mare.
  2. Work horses,
  3. And Uncle Ray is obliged –
  4. Literally – to lend a hand.
  5.  
  6. Ray steps in,
  7. Framed in the arch
  8. Formed by the mare’s hindquarters
  9. And the underbelly
  10. of the stallion as it mounts,
  11.  
  12. neighing,Thrusting, gushing, the huge horse
  13. is Too excited to drive its penis
  14. Between the flaps of the mare’s vagina.
  15.  
  16. Ray is obliged to grab
  17. the throbbing member
  18. And guide it home.
  19.  
  20. I am a young city boy,
  21. Agog at Eros. Eros –
  22. In that moment,
  23. not to me sublime
  24. or ridiculous,
  25.  
  26. (a bafflement of both).
  27.  
  28. As Ray’s eyes meet mine
  29. where he stands
  30. Fearless In the breech
  31. arms Y’d out to flank and dong,
  32. He explains nothing, says nothing.
  33. There are no diagrams, no pictures.
  34.  
  35. this is a farmer god of procreation,
  36. this is the “birds and the bees”
  37. In the ostensive style of Irish farmers
  38.  
  39. Like Arthur at the pig pen
  40. Pointing at the sow
  41. Who takes her stand
  42. And the boar who mounts her.
  43. And tells me “There now, that’s sex.”
  44.  
  45. And I’ve thought so ever since.

© Fabian Jennings. Unpublished manuscript, courtesy of the author.

Farm Life

  1. Cat has got your tongue,
  2. Coyote got your cat,
  3. Pa went through the ice.
  4. Now, whad’ya think of that? 1
  5.  
  6. O’Kane caught beneath the bailer
  7. Lived but lost an eye.
  8. Baby’s in the pig trough
  9. Oh my, oh my, oh my. 2
  10.  
  11. Dead ‘coons in the water,
  12. Snakes have left the well,
  13. George froze in the laneway,
  14. And life has gone ta hell. 3
  15.  
  16. Mick’s laid out in the ice house
  17. We’ll bury him in Spring.
  18. Course, we could p’int and drive ‘im,
  19. But that ‘ud be a turrible thing. 4
  20.  
  21. Ya can see, by Christ, I’m Irish
  22. And love the crunch of bone,
  23. And ennathin’ that’s morbid,
  24. No, I cannot leave alone.
  25.  
  26. Now, none a’ this exists no more
  27. And some would say that’s fine,
  28. But me I miss it turrible
  29. And that’s the bottom line.

  1. As to a cat getting’ yer tongue that I mention there in the poem; well, one little bastard once did get mine. Blood everywhere. So I didn’t mind a bit when a coyote had ‘im for a snack, and that’s just the truth of it.

    As to Pa’s drownin’, that was up on the Shwyan with our best team, Ginny and Dale. Late in the Spring, and the water a foot over the ice. God, how we missed them horses. Pa, too.[↑]

  2. The babe in the pig trough? O, can’t bring myself to talk about that lovely child.

    And as to that bailer accident; O’Kane’s left with an awful scar. (I asked ‘Loy about it. “Must a put an awful damper on that day”, I says, and he says, “No, not so much. It didn’t hurt duh bailer.”)[↑]

  3. Was Edmund taught me you don’t drink water from a well around here where there’s no snakes in it. And George? George was a fierce man ta drink, but a wonderful story teller and can’t be replaced.[↑]
  4. This has to do with indignity to human remains.[↑]
© Fabian Jennings. Unpublished manuscript, courtesy of the author.

About the Poet:

Fabien Jennings, Canada (b. 1942) is a poet, playwright and public speaker. Currently a resident on one of Canada’s prairie provinces, Jennings considers himself to be the greatest of Canada’s insignificant poets – a claim which, though contested, has led him no closer to the desired limelight.

Jennings was nominated for a Nobel Prize for Peace for developing an improved form of dynamite made from organic ammonium nitrate and pig manure. He says “It wasn’t so much the explosive power as the odor” and relates how combatants were heard to say, “My God, the smells unbearable; let’s not fight.”

Pigs… monkies… crocodiles (1974?) is one of his few published works. [DES-06/14]

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