Laika’s puppies
rooting through rubbish tins
are suddenly wolves
living in the Metro,
overheating in carriages,
shepherded by
limbless Chechen veterans—
all it needs is a cleansing fire.

You can see why they lap vodka,
these dogs and soldiers,
a distillation
of their foggy breath
and the words they bark,
breaking glass.


Picnic At Orakau Memorial


Rain is sniping down a grassy knoll like a slow divorce,
spreading phosphates into a mandala shape
of mud and night crawlers.
A mandala like a broken mouth 
sucking the fortifications
in a fractured peach stone
to quench gums plump with bloat—
the worms remember.

A worm dredges up a black and white picture
of moist, salty hog-flesh from grainy diodes,
flesh mixing with sand and sparrow in his gizzard,
rumbling past his five hearts
out what passes as a sphincter
until it mingles with
bayoneted blood, wound slime
and spear splinters.

The deep mud is stoic.
The topsoil might be more helpful,
so much mixing, floating and loss
during every fertile storm-fall.
If pressed, she might sketch
the solid weight of bodies,
as musket growls uncork cheap red wine
with every patient volley.



Chris House shares his Dunedin home with three flatmates, a gardener, 50,000 tourists, a 1929 green fiat and a softly spoken ceramic bear from Bern. He is an English student at Otago University, currently co-editing an anthology drawn from John Dolan’s Poetry Writing Workshops. John now resides in Moscow, surviving on vodka and black market sausage.