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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Jackie Wills' poetry
Appeal

I am launching a charity for the time-starved.
Surrogates will donate half an hour
to skateboard on the Level, eat a ripe peach
slowly, hug your children to sleep.
They will file reports describing darkness
in your garden, a Norfolk sky. The charity
will campaign for an extra day on every week.
Experts will encourage self-help: wash
only the collar and armpits of shirts.
Drop your watch. Don't replace it.


Choir (from Party)

Weekends and school holidays
I'd be up at five, catch the first
19 bus, walk the length
of Frensham pond to the kennels.
The barking began as I clanked
the gate. For seven hours
I'd be at their call until I knew
each one by voice: labrador, corgi,
dachshund, terrier, spaniel, setter
and underneath them all, the bass
tones of a pair of great Danes.
In music lessons, I heard nothing
else. I searched HMV and Virgin
for recordings, began taking
my mini-disc to work - trained
them with chocolate drops. I played
them Santana, John Lee Hooker,
Les Voix Bulgares, Sufi chants
and Madame Butterfly. I learned
what pitches they responded to.
Since then I've conducted choirs
of dogs worldwide: hyenas
in southern Africa, chiens mechants
throughout rural France, packs
of mongrels gone wild in Buenos Aires.
Dogs understand harmony - listen
to hounds mimic a hunting horn.
When I staged a concert inside
the Arctic Circle, it was minus 4.
As I struck my tuning fork,
the Northern Lights shuddered
and 900 huskies howled
from their cages. My next project's
soloists. I'm auditioning wolves.

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