Some months ago an English journalist went to Tanzania and gratuitously killed a baboon, for no other reason than satisfying his morbid curiosity.  This is Steven Berkoff's response.


 A Beast

A baboon is a strange intelligent creature
Living in forests, and swinging from trees
Scaling steep cliffs, stealing honey from bees

In a way not too dissimilar, has similar features
With the hair fluffed out, their eyes closed in
Like a nutty professor or one of our kin,
Even looks like my Uncle Sam
With its long proud nostrils that seem to fan
To two round tunnels on its thoughtful face.
There’s even a touch of our own Brian May.
The babies stay close, to their mums they cling fast,
As they forage for food and chew the tree bark,
The young baboons just revel in play,
Leaping and screeching and wrestling all day.

The dad’s arses are bulging in purple and red
Like ripened plums, throttled and crushed,
To a female baboon, it stirs her young lust
So delicate, odorous, smelling of musk
She grunts and gurgles and yuk yuk yuk…
Now this baboon loved her tawny brown mate
With his sinewy arms and wobbling gait
His thick coat he wears like a general’s cape.
They’d forage together each morning at dawn
For banana and sweet gum until the late morn,
She loved his smell, his grunts and his cock
She loved his lust for her sweet pungent crack
Then after they scrambled, they swung and they played
They rolled in the earth and slept where they lay
Never were creatures so finely attuned
To the life of the forest as these two baboons.

The land was all theirs and the nature was free
The sun and the rain, the hills and the seas
The rivers and vines, spiders and bees,
Giant butterflies and silly chimpanzees
The snake with its coat of shimmering glass
Slithering silently through the long wet grass

But somewhere in somewhere where few trees grow,
Where flowers are scentless and no birds sing
Where lions and tigers don’t hunt for their prey
They’re thrown slabs of meat behind bars where they stay
Where they stay and pace the floor every day
And baboons and monkeys are kept in small cages
A place where mankind hollers and rages,
Where the beasts of the night go hunting in gangs
And rot-teethed murderers bare their fangs
Where the roar of the creature heaving his guts
Are the sounds of this jungle, while slags vent their lust,
In knee-trembling bunkups at the back of the pub.
In such a strange world did one man stew,
Frustrated, loose-ended, bent over his desk
Spewing out garbage, on his laptop he sweats,
A TV critic who feeds by the shite,
He has to churn out, night after night.
Fine tuning his cretinous, lumbering words
Like a pigeon picking through freshly laid turds.

But he’s worth much more than this he thinks,
To write a column week after week
His nose firmly pressed to societies sphincter
Earning a living through mankind’s stink.
He had a passion to be a man,
But a man needs a spine to hold him up straight.
How can you give a spine to a snake?
How can you put muscle in jelly?
He rose from his desk, eyes dead and cold
He had an idea that would make him look bold
Yes he had an idea that would make him look bold.

Now the alpha male baboon makes all the decisions
Where to find food, he has instinct and vision,
He grunts and he brays and acts out his dreams
But they know what he’s saying ‘Let’s follow the stream’
Yes they know what he’s saying, they know what he means
When he grunts and he barks and sometimes he screams

But how could he know, our friendly baboon
How could he know of a beast seeking prey?
A spineless beast whose breath stinks of fear
Who needs to kill you to make his day
Who needs to kill you to see what it’s like
Who needs to kill you since he thinks it so brave
Who needs to put you in an early grave
Since this might give him the spine that he craves.

This pathetic beast, this demented dog
But dog is too kind, not even a pig
Not even a rat, but something much lower
Something lower? What could be more base?
Than a human being that cannot feel,
A human being without a spine,
A human being with a need to kill,
To clog his emptiness with a mindless thrill.

The beast he rose from his desk one day,
A potent idea drizzled through his sour brain
How can he become a man?
By trawling through the vomit the gogglebox spews
His spine turned to jelly, his brain turned to goo
But then one day he found the clue
Seek to destroy what you can never create
It makes you feel good, makes you feel strong
So get yourself a fucking gun
Yes! Get yourself a fucking gun.

A soft-nosed 357 blew out his lungs
The lungs of our baboon high up in his tree
The TV critic aimed so carefully.
Two hundred and fifty yards, he was so proud.
‘Not a bad shot’ he proclaimed aloud.
Hey, now you’re a man, now you’re real hot!
Tanzania will never be quite the same,
There’s one baboon less. The man was so brave.
And then this slug crawled back to his desk
And wrote about his mighty quest.

Copyright © 2010 Steven Berkoff


click for more poems


[ home ] [biography ] [plays ] [films ] [news ] [shop ] [unpublished ] [ resources ] [ contact ]