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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Slate Greyhound

Like a Jesus on some blue moon-drenched planet
or Vincent in a starry night
he is wandering the craggy lands under Wolf Hill
alone in a world full of knives
slashing cartilage and a number tattoo
sound waves turned stone
grinding two pink desert roses blossoming on skull.

In a shelter for his kind he will cower under hands
anointing wounds with ointment
bringing healing to petals of ragged flesh
discussed from country’s end to end
in papers screeching brutalscumbaginhuman
falling silent as a dancer
on high wastes of northern snow
now the first herd of horses raise strained heads
to taste dark ruby skies
in a country where great stallions fight
and crescent bears bleed bile
touching down on that utterly measureless ground.

©Clare McCotter.


Clare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been published in many parts of the world. She won the IHS Dóchas Ireland Haiku Award 2010 and 2011. In 2013 she won The British Tanka Award. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on Belfast born Beatrice Grimshaw’s travel writing and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto (forthcoming), Iota (forthcoming), Irish Feminist Review, Poetry24, Revival, Reflexion, The Cannon’s Mouth, The Moth Magazine, The SHOp and The StingingFlyBlack Horse Running, her first collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.


  1. Replies
    1. Dear Siobhan,
      Thank you very much for this comment. I was unsure about the poem, so I really appreciate what you have written. Hopefully the minister for agriculture will like it too and stop exporting Irish horses to China.
      Best wishes,
      Clare McCotter

  2. Beautiful Blog
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    1. Hello Nawabzada,
      Thank you for your comment. I glad you liked the poem. I will certainly check out poetryworld.
      Best regards,

  3. Hi Clare - this is a beautifully structured and visual piece of work - albeit with a tragic ending for the horses. Enjoyed it.

  4. Hello Carolyn,
    Thank you very much for this comment. As for the Irish blood horses being exported to a country where there is absolutely no legislation governing how they should be kept, or for that matter killed, there is no telling what their future will hold. They may not fare any better than the blue greyhound mentioned in the first stanza. He was found wandering in Newtownabbey earlier this year with his ears cut off. This sometimes happens to ex-racing greyhounds because their registration numbers are tattooed on the inside of their ears. This means that owners can not be traced after they dump their dogs. On a brighter note, the dog in question, despite appalling injuries, survived. He has been adopted by a worker in the rescue centre. He has been named Norman.
    Best wishes,

  5. Skillful and evocative as always.

    It's good to see a commentary that does not shy away from the horrors that await an animal that has given us so much already without choice - a horror that can be easily avoided but almost certain as greed without compassion is the order of the day. It really highlights the results of the psychological studies of people in "power".

    It seems our responsibilities are easy to forget.

    Uncle Toe

  6. Hello Anonymous,
    Thank you for your comment. It is heartening to know that you liked the poem.
    Yes, greyhounds and race horses give so much, probably more than any other domestic animals and yet they are treated very badly. Greyhounds, certainly in Ireland, are treated worse than any other breed of dog.
    Best wishes,