Drinking where the river bed is dry

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  In heart-broken memory of my good friend Charlie, who died 7 May 2020


Charlie and I walked our post-cancer walks
Down this narrow stretch of green in the city
For a full decade. We aged together
But not like malt, we’ve blended into each other,
Man and Dog. He recognized the smells, me the sights,
And his life is shorter than mine. That afflicted me like
A sentence. Very few minutes pass
Without me thinking of that.  He connected me to the
Pack, little knowing that the human herd is what I find
Most offensive, most absurd. I try to fly past those nets
Of race, nationality and religion. A new Daedalus come
To cry: “my medium is the heavens, my medium is the sky.”
But we walked slower and slower each day, me clearing
Up his shit, him watching the dreary Manchester sky.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1*j9q_Ihj5FpBg_1LtTsYa7Q.png

                                                                Charlie and I - 'at ease'.


◄ Byzantine

The foggy, foggy dew ►


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John Marks

Wed 24th Jul 2019 19:57

Thanks Adam. True enough.

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Adam Rabinowitz

Wed 24th Jul 2019 17:53

Thanks for writing this. Nothing more precious than that dog and that connection.

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John Marks

Wed 24th Jul 2019 16:02

Ta Tom. Much better late than never. I feel like that about life!


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Tue 23rd Jul 2019 23:10

Hi John, well... I'm certainly late to the party but this is effing brilliant. Stumbling across a great poem is such a pleasurable feeling and this certainly delivers. Really enjoyed your reading of it too, you read it very differently to how it sounded in my head and it added even more depth. Thanks for sharing. P.S. Congrats on the PoTW (I'm only 2 years too late). T.

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Emer Ni Chorra

Fri 17th Mar 2017 20:00

Such a beautiful, emotional piece and very well read. Thank you for sharing this. Well done .. keep up the great work, John.?

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John Marks

Tue 14th Mar 2017 23:46

Thank you to all those who have been kind enough to comment on this sonnet. Kindness, like common decency, is a much under - rated virtue. Two quotations come to my mind: "Let us be kind/ While there is still time", pithy as usual from Larkin in 'The Mower', and Wordsworth in 'Tintern Abbey':
'...that best portion of a good man's life;
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love.'

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Tue 14th Mar 2017 18:42

Exceptionally moving in its direct appeal to what is and should be important to maintain in this unnerving thing we call life. Who could argue with its sentiments, made even more powerful by the bathos of the ending.

Frances Macaulay Forde

Mon 13th Mar 2017 02:04

Beautiful, sensitive: I thoroughly enjoyed the internal rhymes. Well deserved accolades.

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keith jeffries

Sat 11th Mar 2017 17:27

John, Thank you for this poem which resonates with me in a very intimate sense. Your description of Charlie, your thoughts about him in relation to yourself make the poem one of deep beauty. Thank you again. Keith

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Paul Waring

Sat 4th Mar 2017 14:16

I share your sentiments John. You've written a deeply touching poem here describing beautifully the connection humans can share with dogs. Lovely stuff.


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Graham Sherwood

Sat 4th Mar 2017 10:17

Quite frankly this is one of the best pieces that I have read here on WOL for a long time.
There are so many brilliant sentiments through this I don't want to pick one! This is the sort of work we all wish we were capable of. Great work!


Sat 4th Mar 2017 02:42

Much to think about here, John--our lives are so fragile. This relationship you frame with Charlie is priceless. They say that wolves came to seek human companionship for survival and in the process became dogs. But, they've become a model for friendship that is almost impossible to match within the "human herd".

Just a side note--I hope that humans lose this strange fetish they have with pedigrees. They breed such terrible debilitations into these animals through their ignorance.


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