Two Poems by John Lindley

Inheritance

JOHN LINDLEY

 

Our Aunt left us a cottage.

She didn’t mean to but she did.

Slate it was. Neo-Gothic with chimneys like turrets,

gargoyles in her likeness

and a gash of gate where the fence gave out.

You couldn’t have shifted that place

for love nor money

and there was sod all of either

in its low rooms when we got it.

 

Everything about it was her: its mean light

and narrow views, its fittings that didn’t.

We poured nowt back into it but resentment,

shuttered it up the long winter long,

Havishamed her memory in the gloomiest room

she left us, stuck the Viewing by Appointment pitch

on a sign too big for its boots on an angled pole

in the given up ghost garden.

 

Empty, you’d think you saw smoke

shimmying out of the chimneys

but it’s the light round here plays tricks;

something to do with steam on slow drying slate,

weather fronts and sea air. It’s a mystery to us,

like the way it was left. To us, I mean.

The cottage, I mean. Not like her that.

Come Spring we think we hear the eaves dropping

the way she would through the bedroom floor;

open the windows wide the way her heart wouldn’t.

 

 

The God of Dogs

JOHN LINDLEY

 

The God of Dogs knew a thing or two about design;

knew how to make the rolling shoulder’s plates

attractive whatever the pace,

how to fuel the head with purpose,

the Dunlop snout with scents unsniffed by us;

 

knew how to pattern a paw and patent it

so the copycat cat would stop dead in its tracks

and require those tracks made new

copyright of the God of Cats.

 

The God of Dogs flopped ears or perked them,

lathered His work in fur,

hinged the cocking leg to perfection,

metronomed tails.

 

To Him goes credit for the wolf cousin and fox

but most for the eyes, the blessed bright eyes

of dogs where the dog lovers melt,

where the world reflects a more finished glow.

To Him give thanks for the warm-scented saints

who walk by and amongst us.

 

We, dizzy with dyslexia, praise the Son of Dog

for deliverance and he has made a home for us

on the plain of his lolling tongue.

To Him we owe the music of claw tap on wood block,

the complex calligraphy of hair in the shag pile.

 

Dogs with their valves and varieties

pumped or puffed into being by that God of the air

who fastened those fluid flanks and haunches –

here, the one who punches above his weight;

here, the one who gentles down to size.

 

God of Dogs, who lies down with the lion and lamb

and outshines them both, what a clever hound you are,

drilled yet disobedient, dropping your depth charge dogs

into a sea of troubles, letting their newly-blown shapes

muscle and fawn and make sense of it all,

make sense of us all.

 

 

‘Inheritance’ and ‘The God of Dogs’ were commended and received a Special Mention respectively in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)