the prosecution rests

members of the jury
I put it to you
that it is perfectly
and incontrovertibly
that a certain scruffy you-know-who
namely Stanley
did fully and most fervently
evidence with the utmost opposite of urgently
dappy ears divergently
snoot sonorous and snoringly
tail end unnaturally flatulently
twitching and glitching improbably
worryingly white-eyed and zombily
smiling enigmatically
wonkily orthodontically
as I say – the very INSTANT the defendant landed horizontally
he did deign to demonstrate demonstrably
most mongrelly and monstrously
that he would somewhat implausibly
cause himself to pitch all-four pawsibly
into a perfectly innocent and instantaneous snooze
the SECOND you sat down to watch the news

all that evolution for THIS?

Five hundred and fifty five million years ago
(which really is one helluva long time ago you know)
lived a worm the size of a grain of rice
the first of its kind with a mouth that bites
and a butt that squeezed out all the waste
from the endless snacks it ate with its mates
and it’s name?
Ikaria wariootia
(which may or may not be new to ya)

my point is
this cute little joint is
our earliest common ancestor
(according to scientists at the research centre)
and from this worryingly wormy beginning
you get an Attenborough
of fauna
swimming and flying
running and diving
leaving and arriving
or humping
or just slumping
in front of the TV
like me
and Stanley
stretched out in a food coma
on the sitting room sofa
two distinct species but arguably one loafer
as motionless as any fossil you’d hope to knock
from some sedimentary Australian rock

A Very Stanley Christmas

Here comes Stanley Claus
up on the roof
with his big whiskery paws
and his big whiskery woof

He’s driving a dog sleigh
piled up with presents
pulled by nine bichon frise
on supplements

You’ll know when he’s been
the baubles all scattered
the snowman pushed in
the fairy lights shattered

You’ll spend more on repairs
than you’ll earn back in gifts
picking hairs from the stairs
and mending the rips

It’s a Christmas Eve riot
but at least he’s trying
so hide and keep quiet
when Stanley comes flying

flight of dreams

Stanley’s posture
on the sofa
is that of the highly qualified loafer
head on the arm rest
nose due West
while the rest
of him points East
because this particular beast
will never knowingly be misaligned
no matter how many times
he naps and snoozes
somehow he never loses
his sense of direction
his nose to the West without exception
holding his dreamy attitude
maintaining cruising altitude

Ode to Brodie

Stanley’s not 100% dependable
sometimes perfect, sometimes lamentable
looks pretty innocent but we’ve learned to be skeptical
if anything happened I’m sure we’d be liable

having said that, he’s completely fine with Brodie
a stoner dog with a hipster goatee
as happy as a heavy metal roadie
smoking a joint and spooning macaroni

when Stanley and Brodie get together
it’s like a sudden outbreak of sunny weather
the world a different place altogether
horses, dogs, squirrels… whatever

Brodie could stroll through a full-on riot
like it’s nice to be nice man so why not try it
and suddenly the streets would all fall quiet
and the TV reporters would struggle to describe it

he could totally work for the United Dog Nations
sniffing out barking populations
calming volatile situations
wack job sheepdogs, dotty dalmations

and he’d win huge acclaim for his peace campaign
The Nobel Beast Prize, La Croix de Chien
a squeaky bone headdress from the Chief of the Cheyenne
at a ceremony hosted by the actor, Sean Penn

and they’d raise a statue in the market square
and the sunset would sparkle on his curly bronze hair
as the street dogs gathered to read the plaque there:
To Brodie: A Dog Who Dared To Care

slated for production

Stanley’s agent pops round to run some scripts
to see what he thinks and if anything sticks
she watches his tail for telltale flicks

first up is an actioner
about a retired hitman pensioner
played by Jason Statham
who has a lot of balls so Stanley can chase ‘em
but a team of geriatric mercenaries
Jason’s Age UK day centre adversaries
cut up rough
with some fancy silenced zimmer frames and stuff
till Stanley finally has enough
and goes full lurcher
in a real bone cruncher…

Stanley whines
the agent says another time

the next one is a romantic comedy
about a hapless, hopeless professor of paleontology
played by Paul Rudd
who’s good with bones but his love life’s a dud
so he gets himself a dog
writes a blog
attracts lots of flirtatious comments and attention
from an anonymous woman who keeps him in suspension
till they meet by chance
at a place you go to dance
with your pets
but they clash and end up crying at the vets
falling in love as Stanley’s leg gets set…

Stanley sighs
the agent says okay guys

‘BARK’ is a sci-fi dystopian thriller
about the resurrected clone of Phyllis Diller
played by Timothée Chalamet
who puts arsenic in the president’s canapé
then goes on the run
with her giant dog, Hun
whose stock-in-trade is a galumphing great bark
that reduces robots to a pile of parts
and who Phyllis rides like a horse into battle
in the final showdown, downtown Seattle

Stanley sits up
the agent zips up
her attache case
an orthodontically dazzling smile on her face
Well that’s great!
she says
I’ll go ahead and talk to Les
executive director
he cut his teeth in the advertising sector
so he runs a pretty tight ship
she shakes my hand with a crushing grip
Pleasure doing business!
she says
then pats Stanley’s head
as he yawns and turns and goes back to bed

first dog on mars

I volunteered to go to Mars with Stanley
said goodbye to the rest of the family
jumped in the rocket
plenty of poop bags and treats in my pocket
a coupla good books I’d been meaning to read
a nice warm jacket and Stanley’s training lead
the launch technicians slammed the hatch
lit the match
hurried back
we shot up with an impressive oommph!
pressed back in our seats and then into the roof
when weightlessness kicked in
and we hadn’t strapped ourselves in

nine months later we were still travelling
which I’ll admit was challenging
in what was essentially a studio flat
with a camping cooker that wasn’t all that
an exercise bike to give extra watts
for washing up the plates and pots
but all in all it wasn’t too bad
like the longest lie-in anyone ever had
our noses pressed up at the viewing space
in awe at the vast Netflixlessness of space

but finally
after an ACTUAL eternity
the console lit up mightily
alarm bells sounding
as the shields took a pounding
Stanley put his paws over his ears
as we blasted through the martian atmospheres
glowing like a trash bin
tossed in
a volcano
it was quite a show
I was glad when it stopped
and we quietly dropped
the last few feet or so
landing in a cloud of dust and boulders
screwed our helmets onto our shoulders
opened the doors
stepped outside to stretch our paws

And it was all ours!

I looked at Stan; he looked at me
in five seconds we’d seen all we needed to see
I dropped some rocks
in a plastic box
Stanley sniffed some grit
(the helmet got in the way a bit)
then we went back to the rocket
I gave him a tripe stick outta my pocket
and we settled down to wait a year
for the mission control all-clear
to press the green button
(I argued the toss but they ended the discussion
without their say-so I couldn’t do nuttin’)

now we make a living on the chat show circuit
we both learned quickly how to work it
saying how Mars was tragic and eerie
and I share my theory
how the planet was really
a big red gumball God couldn’t finish
on the seventh day and all that business
and Stanley has a clothing line
branded t-shirts of his own design
mugs, mouse mats, decals for cars
his face and the words: First Dog on Mars

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