lola’s last great chase

when lola was young
no dog could catch her
except for a collie
who’d round her up
intercepting her trajectory
like one of those satellites
you read about
relentlessly closing in on a comet

but time passes
as swiftly
as that owl
we once saw
as we stood together
at the edge of New England woods
staring out
on a moonlit field

years later
and suddenly she’s gone
rushing through stars
that fall like daisies beneath her paws
lighting her way across the void

and I let her go
but I know
this time she will never be caught
will never tire
or stumble
and she will always
be loved

the stipe angle

we sat together on the touchline
me on the bench
dave in his wheelchair
a tumour caught in his head
as squarely as the softball
in that outfielder’s mitt

did you see michael stipe
on unplugged MTV
I think that’s when it really hit me
he said
what did?
I’ll never be michael stipe

and in the time it took
to look away and back again
three strikes and you were out
chemo, crystal, prayer
(and a last minute flight to brazil
for a cure that – needless to say – didn’t)

we sat in concentric circles in the meeting house
stood up in turn, said some things
met afterwards in the courtyard
the snacks were fine, it went okay
the banality of tragedy
someone else cleared up

and death shall have no dominion
dylan said (thomas, not bob)
it did alright with you, though, didn’t it
that metastasising piece of shit
and here I am, thirty years later
still wrestling with the stipe angle