stanley or ralph

Stanley has such a vocal range
you’d think it strange
a dog with no formal training
can find such sounds without straining
an appalling range of oral gimmicks
he conjures through his larynx
then stops and stares and blinks
inscrutable as the sphinx
and your heart sinks
as you struggle to think
what the SHIT can be happening
it’s mournful and maddening
in equal measure
the polar opposite of pleasure
like a tuxedoed lurcher
disguised as a tenor
loped onstage at the MET
to deliver their worst performance yet
and the crowd sit silently stunned
because they’ve just seen the depths of performance plumbed
and programmes are rudely and rapidly thumbed
and a queue backs-up in the foyer for a refund

all I mean to say
is that Stanley often likes to display
in a most emphatic & idiosyncratic way
whether or not he’s okay
and it’s truly a thing to behold
so wild, yet so controlled
like a wolf enrolled
in primal scream therapy
momentarily
forgetting it was a wolf
thinking instead it was a middle-aged guy called Ralph
suffering a crisis of mental health
and the group says Ralph – man – just let it out
till he stands, takes a breath, and opens his mouth

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