Among The Hairyboos and Smoothyboos

Poem from The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard


The Hairyboos were hairy, the Smoothyboos smooth.

But they lived side by side and were never rude.

Strangely, their language had no word for hate,

they called a stranger like myself afar-heart-mate.

These two undiscovered races spoke the same tongue.

Their national anthem sounds fun (even in translation).


‘Hairyboo, Smoothyboo, we same people.

Two different rivers, one ripple.

Forward Hairyboo, Forward Smoothyboo,

Ever onward, ever tickety-boo.’


And you’d think they sing standing to attention.

But no, they sing their anthem lying down

in what’s known as the circle of one heartbeat,

while the men and women stare at each other’s feet.

This is an ancient tradition (or so I’ve been told)

for they say to ponder the feet is to ponder the soul.


The Hairyboos are worshippers of bristles and fur,

and treat as sacred the coconut’s hairy shell.

The Smoothyboos, on the other hand, pray to pebbles.

And in every egg or ball they see a miracle.

These almost extinct tribes have an old expression:

If you don’t have an enemy, why invent one?


© John Agard from The Rainmaker Danced (Hodder)