Celebrating Billy


[Poem about our dog Billy I wrote a few years ago based on a late 18th century model by Christopher Smart, who ended up in a lunatic asylum.]

Celebrating Billy (After Christopher Smart’s Poem To His Cat Jeoffry)

Let’s praise life that can build a dog like Billy

for I’ll describe our three-coloured border collie of five years:

for he prances and pirouettes tippy toes before your nose at the mere whiff of a walk

for he lets visiting dog Ruby stick her tongue down his throat with sublime indifference

for he even lets her lie on the dun and deadly territories of his door mat

for he is the wolf in disguise that wears the friendly mask of an un-shepherding dog

for his soul is large

for he may suddenly fletch foaming wolf teeth at the drop of a dog’s pheromone

for he would follow his alpha male Barbara to the ends of hell and back

for he needs to pogo and freeze mid-air to glimpse the disappearing rabbit in thick grass

for he gyrates merry-go-rounds of joy on our returns

for he does mightily teach honesty and the embodied song of innocence

for his white-tipped tail proudly flies his samurai flag above the deepest summer grass

for the quick qualities of his tail are the subtle semaphores of his soul

for he can neither herd sheep nor see the quivering rabbit standing still

for he can quickly dispatch the green and greedy bird caught in the fruit net

for he enjoys a sweet plum plus kernel straight from the tree

for he hates soap and loves to roll his neck in most kinds of shit

for he prefers his fruit fermented, wombat poo fresh, his meat slightly tenderised by rot

for he proudly carries his old white football like a trophy when others watch

for he freeze-frames his pounce as he contemplates tussock trembling with invisible mice

for he loves above all riding in the back of the car and snapping at four-wheel sheep

for he only swims in dams when the weather is right or strangers are watching

for he terrifies the walking stranger by seeking low headed permission to be humble

for he senses strife or sadness in people and feels for them

for he rams his butt towards you when excited by the attention of others

for he deduces intentions from the donning of clothes and shoes as well as any parent

for at mealtimes he looks up, down, up, away, back while sitting in tonguey expectation

for his eyes sometimes seem puzzled that he is not yet a human

So let’s praise life that can dance up a dog like Billy!


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on August 20, 2013.

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