on the roadside
a dog gives out a long
long yawn
I do the same
out of sheer envy

On my way to the gym tonight (third time in two months) I remembered this poem by Ishikawa Takuboku and decided to write about it while completely exhausted afterwards. With a bit of luck you’re into the subgenre of physically drained reviews about yawning dogs. To make things worse it’s now 2.47am. (Hero?) Best case scenario, in this woozy state I’ll dredge up some good thoughts by accident, like spinning a lorry through an oil slick and into a mass murderer. We might find out that this poem is the exact kind of thing which requires no further comment at all. Perhaps I’ll ruin it. We’ll see. I’m reminded of the Magnetic Fields line “You can’t use a bulldozer to study orchids.” This sweaty, rambling opening also reminds me of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, where each character starts their section by saying how pathetic they are at storytelling before delivering a masterful Ye Olde English kick to the nuts. Alas, I can’t promise you that kick to the vulva/nuts, but I’ll try my best. 

My first thought after reading the poem was about a cat I used to live with, Penny. I was leaving for work one morning and I thought, what a boring day Pen will have compared to me. I get to cycle into central London, checking Big Ben to see if I’m running late, etc. and meanwhile she has a tiny three garden area to bumble around in. As I was thinking that, Pen leapt after a bird hiding in a bush and I immediately realised that I’d be aggressively erasing myself with eight hours of admin tasks on Excel. Penny would be chasing things, killing things, diving, fighting, scrambling around with nature and death. She yawns at the end of the day because she’s been doing things I’d need a stunt double to replicate. Like the poet, I am envious. (I’m not).

Does the dog yawn from exhaustion or laziness? Repeating long long implies leisure to me. Maybe it’ll be obvious to me in the morning. It could be referencing something in Japanese culture. (I looked it up, just found this article, “Tired dog lovers who think their pet pooch is yawning right along with them may just be right, according to a Japanese study.” Useless) I’m a bit thrown here thanks to Margaret Thatcher. I have a quote of hers which I can’t un-thatch from my brain no matter how many photos of Neil Kinnock I kiss. I’m going to write it here so it jumps from my mind into yours, I'll be free forever and you become disgusting/cursed. You’ve had plenty of warning now to stop reading. The quote is “For every troll gathering emeralds, there is one princess who mustards her map.” That isn’t the quote, I was giving you another chance to escape. The quote is, “Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's a day you've had everything to do and you've done it (destroyed lives).” In this case the tired dog is Margaret Thatcher. The man who is jealous of her is potentially a young William Hague. Should dogs be allowed on log flumes if they’re wearing baseball caps? 

That will do for now. This tired poetry review will become a habit. I realise I’ve barely mentioned the poem properly. I was going to say something about a Jacques Brel lyric about wanting to be “the shadow of your dog” but I need to sleep. The poem has a ring of documentary truth about it, along with humbleness, humour and beauty, in such few words.