LAP DOG – To John Bellany
No whining tail-thumper, you,
no eager, barking, soulful-eyed best friend.
Who would throw a stick for you,
or rubber ball, sticky with your spit?
Your breath would rust gold rings,
rot the flesh slowly from the bones.
You haunt the desolation
from the dream-rooms to the quays,
and where the dead-eyed fishes
shine in cold embraces.
It was you, wasn’t it,
who snuffed and slithered
under the gate of the artist’s ribs,
winding yourself into his guts,
gnawing into his liver
to make your thirst his.
But creation triumphed over pain,
and he made a lap dog of you after all.
Now sunlight streams in the dream rooms;
carnivals and open-air cafes
are luminous in all their colours.
The artist is alive,
and you are his creature.