Pigeon Bombs

anti tank dog

“this House … wonders at the lack of gratitude towards these gentle creatures; and believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.“
– Early Day Motion 1255

The Dog Bomb
and its contribution to modern warfare

This was the moment
that mankind discovered
dogs don’t know what side they’re on

Inhuman bloodshed
amongst the poppies of Flanders
and with that
we’re all in this together

Why should men and horses
bear this burden alone?

With Pavlovian precision
tanks equal food
notably those hunnish tanks
rolling over a corner of barbed wire
that is forever England

with extensive rehearsals
our canine collaborators
strapped in suicide vests
martyred themselves
across the tracks

into the valley of death
loped the bomb dogs

Partisan hounds!

To a dog
a tank is a tank
in the eyes of a dog
those great rolling metal instruments
are the source of food
a dog has no eyes for insignia

waste was laid
to both sides
burning fuel
hot metal
blood in the mud
coarse dog hair
coated on rust

a hundred years past
and flying robot dogs
mechanised pigeons
magnifying insignia in HD
hurling salvoes into oxidised sand
whilst the dogs stay at home
fall asleep on human armchairs
in front of the ten o clock news

but in dog hearts
in that little crazed dog mind
in that flap of great tongue
roll of bloodshot eye
justified maul of teatowel
pant pant exhausted
after an afternoon leaping at dragonflies

dogs long for the meteor
dogs yearn for the dust cloud
the dogs are pining for the flames
to have bomb on back
rolling metal containers
stacked with tinned food
and every which way to run


This was originally intended to be published on National Poetry Day, but I’ve never successfully managed to actually post a poem on that day before and this year is no exception. The main reason I hesitated was because quite a lot of the poem turned out to be factually inaccurate – there were indeed “Anti Tank Dogs”, but they were pioneered by the Russians, and in the Second World War, not the first. I’ve been a bit fascinated with bomb dogs for years, and the return of the glorious Early Day Motion 1255 to the news in recent months spurred me to write about them, albeit in a manner that’s probably not the most informative. If you have ever met a dog, however, you will know that the final verse is entirely true.

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