Tuesday Poem-Walking an imaginary dog-by Gordon Challis

You have to do this where I live —
the caravan park does not allow real ones.
Every morning
I slip out before too many people are around
dragging the dog at first
finding any spare power points
available to charge him up;
those with caravans already there
he pisses on
discharging an electrolytic urine
which strips the paint.
Then we try
outside the park: the sandflats of the creek,
the oyster-bladed rocks, the mangroves’
many attempts to start out again for heaven.

He sniffs heaven
in onion smells before the steak goes on
and makes no judgement whether breakfast
is the right time.

I go behind him holding the leash
gently though not letting him
surge too far foraging ahead
not too far down my road.
To passers-by I would appear
a blind man trusting my hand
to scan for obstacles or
reaching out to touch the small face of a child.

(c) Gordon Challis

Gordon lives in Golden Bay with his wife Penny. I am lucky enough to have been lunching with them both, when Gordon’s second collection of poems arrived, fresh from the publisher. Although Penny and I badgered him to open it at once, Gordon remained quiet and focused and refused to touch it until lunch was completed. I think his poetry has the same approach…carefully crafted and considered.

When I asked for some background to the above poem, Gordon said…’We were living in a caravan park in Northern NSW.  Animals, especially dogs, were not allowed. In the end Annie Laurie our cat, caused trouble and we moved into a flat.’  From simple beginnings….

Photo by Neil Wilson, Golden Bay Weekly.

This poem was published in Gordon’s second collection,  ‘Other Side of the Brain’, (Steele Roberts 2003).

It was selected as one of the ‘Best NZ Poems 2003’ and later  published in ‘The Best of the Best,’ (Manhire,Bill (ed) Wilkins, Damien (ed) Published 2011.  For more information on Gordon go to…


To listen to Gordon reading the poem, click the link below and scroll down to Gordon Challis.


Thanks for visiting me. Please return to the Tuesday Poetry Blog and view the poems of the talented and committed Tuesday Poem bloggers, from round the world but mostly from Aotearoa!


4 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem-Walking an imaginary dog-by Gordon Challis

  1. Oh, I love the silent, determined stealth to this poem! I like that it is just a circle of two – the owner and his dog’s early ritual – until the very end when he considers the passers-by – there is such intimacy to it. Thanks for introducing me to a new poet, Helen 🙂

  2. I’m so glad you gave us, as well as the poem, the photo of Gordon . and the story of the arrival of the new book in the middle of lunch. They’re all of a piece, Unassuming integrity, careful craft and vision – thank you for introducing me to him. .

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