Talking Turkeys – Benjamin Zephaniah

Yesterday as part of Christmas Week at Brontë’s Page Turners,  we pondered on the peculiar nature of Christmas traditions through the ages. For me, the most peculiar tradition is our obsession with turkey. Beef? Yes. Lamb? Go on. More pigs in blankets  please mother. But turkey – nah mate.

In Talking Turkeys, Benjamin Zephaniah makes us think deeply about those little turkey  fellas/ladies. Now, I can’t pretend to share Zephaniah’s vegan moral high ground as, when all is said and done,  I couldn’t give up my saveloy and chips. But Zephaniah’s plea for the turkey delivers a serious message about animal rights and our needless and rather non-Christian wastefulness during this festive season,  with humour and swagger – even more so if you hear Zephaniah deliver it himself (see below, with thanks to YouTube).

I found this gem in The Nation’s Favourite Comic Poems, but the poem is originally from a collection of children’s poems also called Talking Turkeys, about the environment, social issues, and all sorts. I hope you like it!

P.S. Please let me know if you like turkey. I am genuinely yet to meet someone who does, but perhaps I have lived a fairly sheltered life…maybe there are some wild turkey-lovin’ parties going on out there, and I am missing out…

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos turkeys jus wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, an turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don’t eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate an not on yu plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I’m on your side.

I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey say ‘Benj man, eh, I wanna enjoy it,
But dose humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys jus wanna play reggae
Turkeys jus wanna hip-hop
Havey you ever seen a nice young turkey saying,
‘I cannot wait for de chop’?
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey. His name was Turkey
He said ‘Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?’
I said, ‘I am not too sure Turkey
But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy and waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash.’

So, be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey’ll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends ‘FOR LIFE’.





5 Comments Add yours

  1. Brilliant! I can’t solve he mystery of turkey, as I can’t stand it. Like you, I’ve never met anyone who liked it.

    Not sure I agree with Benjamin that ‘turkeys hav brains’ though – I’ve never seen evidence of this. I love ‘Turkeys jus wanna play reggae’ 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The mystery deepens! Perhaps we eat it as some sort of Christmas penance? P.S And I like ‘Every turkey has a mum’ !!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this poem, it made me smile! But it also made me feel a bit ashamed as I’m afraid I do really like turkey as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Finally a person who likes turkey!

      Liked by 1 person

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