The boys

It’s a funny old world
I tell the boys.
It seems that Bonnie Prince Charlie
was born in Rome.

‘Och, si,’ they nod, well,
they’re Aberdeen Angus after all.
I call them boys
but strictly speaking they’re steers,

Or castrati you could say,
though it’s a word
that they might flinch at.
And to one who has a raw spot

I say, ‘that is a graze,
and when you eat the grass,
that too is grazing.’
They mull this over

As we wander to the boundary fence
where Henare is finishing up.
He offers me some
of his trimmed-off branches.

I look to next year’s firewood,
the boys make eyes at the foliage.
‘ Yes, thanks, Henare,’ I say.
‘ Si, grazie Henare,’ sing the boys. ‘Grazie, ciao.’

Stu Bagby was born in 1947 and lives on a five acre block of land in Albany, Auckland. Formerly a grave-digger, he has most recently been occupied part-time as a tutor and reviewer. Previously published in Auckland University Press’s New Poets Vol. 2, his first full collection As it was in the beginning, published by Steele Roberts, was nominated in the Sunday Star Times by Kevin Ireland as one of 2005’s best books.

Bagby comments: ‘A light, fun poem, “The boys” came from borrowing some cattle to bring my overgrown paddocks down after I'd fenced them off. I became quite fond of the boys and spent many hours in their company. I like to end poetry readings with this poem and use the final two words to exit the stage.’

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