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


A trawler first saw it
snagging its net
and when they went to draw it
two giant paws
out of the sea
tipping their ship catastrophically
klaxons wailing
the crew frantically bailing
trying to start sailing
the other way and failing
till the engine smoked
the dragline broke
and they made their departure
heading for harbour
about what the hell it was
that burned out all their gears & cogs
a submarine or an octopus
but rising up behind them against the moon
they learned the answer all too soon

we come to know
in a cliche flashback episode
ten years ago
a maverick scientist
Miko Tempest
ignoring the risks
slipped T-Rex DNA from fossilised ticks
snuck it away
to make
an unholy merger
with a long-haired lurcher
called Stanley
recently adopted by her family
she filled him fulla dope
steroids, tripe sticks, radioactive isotopes
in their boujee, hi-security villa
on a private island east of Manila
and her efforts bore fruit
with the cute
but mega-monstrous brute
of subsequent international repute:

one day Miko
leaves to go
to Tokyo
to sell shares in her biotech portfolio
she leaves the dog with her mum, Takako
with strict orders not to let him out
of their high security island redoubt

but a tornado
unexpectedly blows
lays the place’s defences low
and before Takako
knows it
the gate’s in a state and she can barely close it

social media
are immediately
fulla clips
blurry radar blips
shaky footage shot from ships
some kinda
paddling monster
says the news announcer
heading north
estimated course?
why? the guy doesn’t know
nor do the experts in the studio
but Miko
watching from a noodle bar in Ikebukuro
shakes her head and says uh-oh

a mile or more
and closing
rhapsodically nosing
the fresh Pacific spray
rapidly paddling his colossal way
through the waves
barking at following naval flotillas
as governments gamble
and fighter jets scramble
from air force bases
fear in their hearts
& masks on their faces

despite their dire firepower
Stanzilla’s driven by a higher power
he quickly makes land
takes a subway train in hand
derails it
rice flails it
up against the skyscrapers
which fold like rice papers
captured on the phones of city traders
cowering in pipes & smoking craters

asks to speak to
the Head of the Armed Forces
who of course is
only too pleased
to see her
and an hour or so later
Miko takes a helicopter
fuels it up and flies
up through the sombre, smoky skies
giving the controls an occasional flick
to manage the tanker-sized chicken & tripe stick
swinging seductively under it

twitches, goes
into overdrive
he dives
to get it
but forget it!
Miko swoops
in tantalising backward loops
heading back out to sea
STANZILLA! following helplessly
all the way home
where Takako’s made lunch and a landing zone

eventually, in conclusion,
the government passes a resolution
lifting all threat of prosecution
for the terrifying, city-wide destruction
if Miko gives them the rights to production
of her super-sizing formulation

and so
as things currently stand, you know
Miko & her mum Takako
live a sheltered kinda life, although
their island’s now a tourist hotspot
where people pay to take selfies a lot
leaning out of the cherry-picker
to get the most spectacular picture
Me & Mr:

let there be lurcher

We went to see dogs at the RSPCA
but they didn’t have much to show us that day
just a couple of wild-eyed terriers
barking round their barred interiors
two intimidating staffie brothers
smouldering, shoulder to shoulder
then a lurcher
called Storm
slumped in a basket at the far end on his own
like a cyclone
of the purest depression
or a lifer in prison
whose only ambition
was to own a harmonica and play the blues
as people passed by in orderly queues

he looked a mess
and I have to confess
I expressed
some hesitation
especially when I read the information
written on the card
tied to the bars
describing his hard
and cruelly neglected past

he’d been rescued with a Patterdale called Biscuit
who’d been taken the day before our visit
(unless TAKEN was some kind of shelter euphemism
for the way some dogs end up leaving the prison)

so it was just Storm
forsaken and forlorn
waiting for someone to perform
an unlikely miracle
the chances against it were considerable
for something so ribby and miserable

and I must admit I had my doubts
especially how a dog that size would get out
through the flap we had in the kitchen door
other than breech birth paw over paw

but the others were insistent
so we found an assistant
told her we were interested in adopting Storm
she took us to the office to fill out a form

there were certain procedures to follow of course
we had to come back a few times for walks
to see if any of us had second thoughts
including whether he’d get on with Lola
our beautiful, elderly and elegant lurcher
who acted the martyr
but then quickly adapted because she’s smarter
and saw the benefits in having a partner

so everything seemed to go pretty well
Lola behaved like a true professional
and Storm was happy as far as we could tell
being generally as inscrutable as baby Yoda
in the end we said fine and he jumped in the Toyota
(and yes – I KNOW Skoda
would’ve sounded better
but – y’know – whatever
at least you can see I’m always striving
to be honest about stuff, including what I’m driving)

Three years later
and it’s hard to remember
a time before we ever had Stanley
(we changed the name from Storm incidentally
because essentially
we didn’t think he looked like a Storm
more like a Terry, an Eric or a Norm
in a neckerchief and cap
like a Victorian bargee or something like that
but it had to be a name that started with STUH
so he wouldn’t think we were calling some other lurcher
anyway – you get the picture)

and just like all those other decisions
when fate intervenes in unlikely conditions
we extended by one this vagabond family
with a lolloping, long-legged lurcher called Stanley

punk dog

I’m sorry, STORM, but the name doesn’t suit’cha
it doesn’t seem right for a scruffy lurcher
I mean – if there’d been bigger dogs in the pound
like a Munsterlander or a Newfoundland
a Pyrenean sheepdog or an Aghan hound
well – maybe
the name would fit the breed
and STORM would do you very well indeed
but a lurcher? who, for all his graces,
just has one of those mad faces
crazy wise and clever
more wild blue day and less bad weather
but anyway
what I meant to say
who you really remind me of today
– Johnny Rotten circa 1978