I wouldn’t usually (re) publish two poems over two days but on the 11th January last year our beloved hound, Phoebe, died, and we remember her, miss her and relish the time we had together. This is dedicated to all dog/animal lovers ; it’s the price we pay?
For Phoebe, the dog star.
(i) The joy of running.
A bolt from the blue,
A golden arrow streaking , skirting Newport bay
Effortlessly matching sand sail and surf.
A pimple, possibly canine, on the farthest horizon
was enough to take you away,
bullet running, wide pawed dancing.
Find the fiercest dog you could – and make it chase you!
You and Maisie rising and falling like dolphins
in the meadow sweet, long grass of summer.
In Wiltshire woods the intoxicating frustration of putting up deer,
glad running into the copses,
thundering through bramble and bracken,
off, into the dim distance.
Leaving us with the panicky emptiness of the long wait.
half an hour, maybe more,
then you would appear, purple tongue, seemingly a mile long,
hawking for breath, flat out on the green downs.
(ii) A wolf god.
Eyes, soul pooled,
Anput, Egyptian dog princess,
Pharaoh dog, friend to Anubis.
strong willed and sublime.
(iii) The ghost dog.
Nothing here of your decline,
just the final, dreadful, sting.
Hot teared night, tumbling on your velvet snout.
Earth drenched, she sleeps, soft blanketed.
A grave peppered with violas and first daffodils.
Now, a ghost dog walking with us.
Through Pengelly woods, wintered, mulched and mudded.
Teifi Lakes spiced with snow.
The estuary, silvered, flat calm and kind.
The pine forest near Lampeter, muffled.
Is that you?
A shivering movement amidst the trees.
A backwards glance, somehow you fill the space.
A muted howl of greeting, a murmur on the breeze?
We too will be scattered skywards,
dark skies and moonbeams,
And, out there,
awaits our Sirius,
our dog star.
Phoebe was a lurcher, saluki, greyhound cross. A Battersea Cats and Dogs rescue hound. A huge character, acknowledged as a beauty by pretty much everyone she met. She was really quite regal, did not offer her affection lightly, and had a wicked sense of humour and mischief. A dog, yes, but so very much more. She lifted and lightened our lives for some 15 years or so, and we miss her terribly.
This poem is the best I can do. 7/2/17.
It has been said, “time heals all wounds.” I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.
It seems strange to me, almost uncanny, how the death of someone one has never met, and now, never will, (and of course, probably never would have encountered anyway!) can feel like such a personal loss. I felt this following the death of Terry Pratchett and now do so about that of David Bowie. And, as witnessed by the incredible amount of tributes and commentary, lots of other people do too.
The statement that an artist provided the “soundtrack to my years” is, of course, a cliché – but hey, David Bowie is right up there amongst my inventory of magical musical discovery….of lost summer mornings abandoned to song, of sneaking a disc onto the radiogram (in the early days, prior to the Dansette) of the thrill of the new, crisp covered LP, of talking though the nuances of photos, lyrics, sleeve notes, with various friends. Of life, of love, of sadness and of the sheer, brutal thrill of new sounds, new visions. Rest Well Mr Bowie – you deserve no less, well at least, as far as my – inadequate – book is concerned.
As suburban adolescence slid by
Our small town’s parks disturbed by smoke, cheap beer, chatter
Indiscretion and mild obsession
You, somehow, showed us what might matter
Sometimes snarled lyrics, harsh guitar
At others, a love letter, whispered
Hermione and the Starman in harmony.
Later, we rode from Station to Station
Having been a Lodger, Low, an occasional zero
Rock and Roll Suicide denied
Dogs, cats, diamonds amongst the genocide
And yet, you sang, the possibility that even we
Might become, reclaimed, refreshed, a Hero.
Last night, the moon split by dark cloud
(A favoured line, of mine)
I sang to you, windswept and westward
though this is not America
skybound, space scattered, unfettered
As the radio waves vibrated with your muse
So sad, so very personal, somehow
Dear David, wondering
Where are you now
Where are you now?