Donkeys – Lynne Kohen

The braying is a wrinkle in the neighbourhood.

Sometimes at midnight they start up and nothing

but an armful of hay, flung in fury,

muffles them.


Tijuana, Mexico, in ’92,

where dozens of street donkeys, dragged by shouting men,

were painted like carousels

for the tourists.

They laid a mantle of pity on us so heavy my mother cried

and my father took out all his change

and gave it away.


It’s true that donkeys are not paired with wisdom, but this they show us:


love stands for a long time

in one place

before slowly turning its head

to meet your eye.

I was leafing through my copy of Horizons 4, the Nelson produced anthology of Winning Stories from the Page and Blackmore National Short Story Competition and Poems selected for that bookshop’s window.  Lynne’s poem Donkeys caught my eye. It is a short poem which conveys a great deal…about the human condition, as well as that of donkeys.

It was also a treat to ‘discover’ for myself a poet of such merit and to find that she has already been delighting many others, with her beautifully crafted words.

About the Poem: Lynne says ‘I have a real soft spot for donkeys and this poem was a sort of love letter to them.’

Ed. Note: I asked Lynne about the cupcakes. (She is bearing a large tray of them in the photo below.) It turns out she has a love of them as well.  ‘I wonder how many thousand I’ve made!’ she commented.

Lynne’s Bio in Brief: Lynne Kohen is a writing student living in the Nelson area. Her poetry awards include second and third placements in the New Zealand Poetry Society’s international poetry competition, and first equal in the Page and Blackmore annual poetry contest. Here is a link to another thought provoking poem by Lynne, published in Turbine 15 and called called ‘She Keeps her Fingernail Clippings’ 

Lynne Kohen

Thank you Lynne for permission to publish Donkeys. I look forward to reading more of your poetry in the future. For those who wish to find out more about the Horizons 4 anthology, the latest in the New Zealand Society of Authors’, Top of the South branch’s biennial anthologies, go here

And if you are touched by this poem and have a love of donkeys, you will be pleased to know that there is a donkey and mule protection trust with representatives throughout New Zealand. Below is their photo of ‘happy’ donkeys.