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
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,
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)