Shit Poem by James Heriot “Jas” Duke

I’m in the shit business
I work for the sewerage department
I analyse experiments
I draw graphs and flow charts
and conclusions
today I was sitting at my desk
trying to explain
the dissolved air flotation process
where streams of little bubbles are released
into a tank full of sewerage
to float the suspended solids up to the surface
to be skimmed off
but what I was really thinking about
was lunchtime
the canteen cook
caters to the ethnic multitudes
by putting on Italian eats most days
I was thinking of ravioli
with meat sauce
but I was writing things like
“The sludge produced by this process
is grey-brown in colour
and does not produce
offensive odours
provided anaerobic conditions
can be prevented”
the sludge is really composed of
my used ravioli
and the Boss’s used steak
and your used hamburger
and the vegetarian’s used brown rice
all mixed up together
and when it gets in this state
no one wants to know about it
except me
I don’t find shit offensive
most people do
they can’t wait to push the button
or pull the chain or something
and then they think the shit has vanished
into the centre of the earth
it hasn’t really
it just floats up somewhere else
it’s all biodegradable
I reckon most people think
that shit is the most deadly poison
on the face of the earth
they’d rather face ten tons of plutonium
than half a bucket of shit
even their own
no curse in the English Language
is complete
without “shit” included in it somewhere
lunchtime arrived
I ate my ravioli
I had a shit
it was brown in colour
I felt a lot better.


Date: 1981

By: James Heriot “Jas” Duke (1939-1992)


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