In the latest issue:

Democracy? No thanks

Eric Foner

The Bournemouth Set

Andrew O’Hagan

Short Cuts: How to Block Spike

Rupert Beale

Poem: ‘Lark’

Anne Carson

Mussolini’s Unrealism

Edward Luttwak

Characteristically Spenderish

Seamus Perry

Waiting for Valéry

Michael Wood

Bilingualism

Michael Hofmann

The Case for a Supreme Court

Stephen Sedley

A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew

At Las Pozas: Edward James’s Sculpture Garden

Mike Jay

He’s Humbert, I’m Dolores

Emily Witt

Archigram’s Ghost

Jonathan Meades

‘Love at Last Sight’

Chloë Daniel

Instapoetry

Clare Bucknell

Scotland’s Dreaming

Rory Scothorne

Diary: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps

Iain Sinclair

Close
Close

Young men, like pups, can be somewhat unformed.
Unless you’re certain of their pedigree,
it’s hard to see how they’ll mature and grow.
(Alsatians will fuck dachshunds now and then.)

A man who has some mileage on the clock
in theory would be best. You know the worst –
how much his hair is likely to recede,
his face to fold, as ‘character’ comes out.
(Furrows look better on the land than skin –
the worst one is a constipated frown –
laughter lines are the most forgivable.)
Auden grew wrinkled as a shar-pei dog.
Most only reach the pug or bloodhound stage.

I’ve tried ‘the older man’ – the problem’s not
the looks. It’s the god-awful temperament.
Rottweiler-grumpiness sets in with age.
I’ll stick to pups who’re younger than myself –
they’ve got more stamina for exercise
and better natures, willing to be trained.
I’ll whistle and they’ll come, fetch, carry, beg.
Of course, I wouldn’t take on one too young –
I’d certainly prefer him weaned from mum.

Old dogs, it’s said, cannot be taught new tricks –
and those they have are all predictable.
They guard their kennels self-importantly,
mark out their territory in wind and piss,
bark righteously for any trifling cause.
follow the pack in every bloody thing.
All their affection’s of the boisterous kind –
they’re awfully free with dandruff, spittle, hair.
The eviller ones are snappish with young kids,
chase those who’re weaker than themselves (like sheep),
seize you and won’t let go, roger your legs,
lose socks, worry old bones and bury thing.
And all take leaks at frequent intervals.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m partial to a dog.
I blame their breeders for the way they’re trained.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences