I think I could turn and live with animals…
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
                                              Walt Whitman

He must not have driven the roads of Northumberland,
Whitman, or else he would not have said such a thing.
The festering fox indented into the roadside,
A snuffed out progeny pecked clean by raven wraiths
Is testament to his ignorance.  How could it be happy?
Limping to its shallow grave amongst the Herb Robert
After being hit by a car, or was it thrown clear across
The carriageway like a rugby ball punted into the try zone?
Were its last thoughts of its cubs cuddled in the cold,
Waiting in silence for its non-return?  What of them?
Had he seen the pheasant’s mad dash from summer scuttled
Folds of the field as the shotgun shook silence
Seemed to condense the horizon, and everything about
Became a clatter of coming carrion, he would not have crowed.
And if he had driven behind the livestock truck
This morning, caked in mud and shit - he would have seen
The rolling white eyes of the cows off to slaughter,
Lolling their heads through the bars like prisoners
Sent to the gulag, knowing their fate,
Watching the fields that they grazed in yesterday
Pass by in a haze of greenery – then, I don’t think,
That he would have called them happy at all.

Colin Bancroft

If you have any comments on this poem, Colin Bancroft would be pleased to hear from you.