Leash

I let my emotions off their leash:
that was an error, they went barking
straight up the nearby gum tree.

They went mental. They leapt
out of the cordon, the frame, order,
lolloping like lines on a cardiograph.

Into the thick of it: they rucked
and tussled. Their tongues were wagging,
some of them slavered. I watched one
nasty bastard, stubbly, its pink skin
weeping quietly, sink snaggled teeth
into the bum of a bystander.

Several got shot for worrying.
In a foam of excitement, some sprang
over precipitous ledges,
gadarene, the grins still wavering
on their sickly faces, mid-air.

No end they embarrassed me. One
was improbably poodle; it primped
its pert curls in every reflection.

They'd scud past me, squealing loudly
for mercy, money, mother, manna.
I put my foot down: they snapped
the gins of their warm jaws round it,
cracking my ankles.

I tried to corral them, drive them
back to the homestead. They gave me
the slippery slope. Months later
there were still unlikely sightings,
rumours of rabid behaviour, continents

away. A witness claimed
to have caught and cooked one;
some were said to be kept as pets
by the children of cheerful farmers.

I didn't believe a word of them.

Exhausted, maundering forwards, any
survivors would have crouched down,
pie-humble, the stuff of hermits
hiding their whiff of contrition behind
an outbreak of white beard.

Checking their mandibles, they'd settle
for the solace of isolation, chewing
the lost cud of their candour.

I still have the leash; it hangs
looped on a hook in the hall.
I pass it daily. I feel nothing.

From the book Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday