Poem: The Gull


A gull is an angel,
Agitating more than it soothes,
Exposing you to the wasteful entrails,
You would rather keep subdued

With wings white and broad,
A self-appointed choir of ululations,
He eats of the flesh of the Holy Lamb,
And lift himself above the nations

Yet you who poison the planet,
And render it a ruin for yourself and others,
You who are a pest unto yourself,
And a pest unto the world

You have the audacity to call him ‘vermin.’
This winged anarchist of God,
Who teaches us all how to laugh at disorder

If your harmlessness to this planet,
Could be as little as that of this bird,
Your saintliness would be of the whiteness of his wings,
And your laughter would be The Word


Poem: Sacred Dog’s Body – An Epitaph

If I didn’t know any better,
I might think you were still breathing,
That your lemon-yellow fur was still heaving,
That any moment you might open your eyes,
And catch us in the warm headlamps of your love

But now your body lays dispirited on an altar at Barton Hill Farm,
Awaiting cremation,
Overlooked by the photos of other deceased pets on the walls,
As we weep with a depth and intimacy of grief
We would struggle to show for many humans

Certainly, outside, life still thrives,
Pheasants and grey-legged partridges dive out of the way of the car,
Boaters launch inflatable rafts into the river,
Red kites and buzzards still get mobbed by crows
Over the sycamore trees in our back garden

Nevertheless there is an emptiness now in our family home,
There is a silence – a superfluity of space –
Like a string quartet bereft of its bass viol,
Or a sweet chorale robbed of its sweetest singers

You were so ready to love and be loved,
To be the embodiment of all earthly loyalty and comfort,
Yet asked for so little, just some tender recognition;
A walk, some food, and a cuddle to please you

Now, three dogs, not four, meet me at the bottom of the stairs
When I come down to walk them in the morning,
I no longer feel your warm body on my feet under the table,
Or hear the communicative slap of your tail against the floorboards,
The insistent beat that let us know you were desirous of attention

But it is for ourselves, not you, that we mourn – you
Who now gets to experience infinity in all of its weightless colours,
Unencumbered by a body, your spirit can fly freely in the tides of eternity;
You can be a ministering angel to others as a spirit,
As you were to us in a sacred dog’s body

Adieu, world unsouled friend!
Until we meet again, I shall see you
In the shadow of every other dog I meet,
As a reincarnated baby bird,
Or a newborn lamb in spring

But please, most of all, ever keep in heart and mind,
Your best friend, my mother, who loved and needed you most,
Who freely would have given you half her soul
If it could have brought you back to her in another body

From ashes to ashes,
From dog to dust,
One of the kindest souls I have ever known