The Outdoor Poet: Robert Sward


I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
—Sir Winston Churchill

1. Getting Your Pig Ready

Start ninety days before the show
Walk the pig right down Main Street—every day
Get 'im used to you
You have to spend time with 'im
You can use candy, candy hearts to reward 'im
But you need to focus
Pig knows if your mind wanders
You don't focus
He'll take off running
Pigs can run a 7-minute mile

2. Pig Song

Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices
Within a few weeks of being born a pig will
Recognize its own name
Mother pigs sing to their young while nursing

Oink, Sui Sui Sui
Oink, Sui Sui Sui
Ouk! Ouk!

In Denmark there are twice as many pigs as people

There are approximately 840 million hogs on farms throughout the world

On average pigs live for about 15 years

The sound made by a jet engine
Is around 115 decibels
A pig can scream at about 125 decibels

A pig's orgasm lasts 30 minutes

Pigs don’t ‘sweat like pigs’; they’re actually unable to sweat

And sleep. They sleep snout to snout, each inhaling the breath of the other

3. Walking Your Pig

You can't put a leash on 'im
you have to work your pig
You want to show the judge as many angles as you can
So keep the pig between you and the judge
Clean, well-groomed hogs that don't run in the ring
that's basic
That's where we start from
'Walking your pig' it's called
front view, side view, butt view
Judges need to see 'im
Pigs always look better when they're on the move
so you tap either side with a stick or brush
to get 'im moving. How does he walk? How does he carry himself?
That's what judges are lookin' for
Soundness in the pig Pigmanship in the trainer
Sus scrofa domestica, subspecies
Of the wild boar
four short legs each with four toes
And they walk on only two
you and your tiptoeing pig

Anyway it's all about the pig, my friend,
So remember, focus focus
keep your head down
And show the animal, show the animal
Not yourself.

Salinas, CA

About The AuthorRobert Sward is author of numerous books of poetry including, most recently, New and Selected Poems: 1957-2011 (Red Hen Press). He is also the editor of this column, participation in which is by invitation. He lives on the Westside with his wife, artist Gloria Alford, and a poodle mix named Cosette.

Photo by Jon Smith/Creative Commons

The Outdoor Poet: Robert Pesich
The Outdoor Poet: Evelyn So
The Outdoor Poet: Gary Young