Boneyard Dogs

This entry is part 4 of 20 in the series Highgate Cemetery Poems


Her faithful pet

for RR

How does one lay out a dog for burial?
Do it wrong and its ghost will circle
endlessly, unable to lie down.


Live dogs aren’t permitted in the cemetery.
We look for their stone snouts among the angels.


Has anyone considered that dogs may not want us
with them in heaven?
That we would frighten the wolves?


A cemetery is the last refuge of invisible friends.
Here’s someone with a map to celebrity gravesites.


Trees at Highgate need not fear the lifted hind leg.
They go wild, permitted
every extravagance except death.


I write these notes six weeks later
in a silence greater than any in all London,
sitting in the darkness,
trusting my faithful pen to find the way.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Shit Dave, that first one made me cry. Dog stuff often does, I’m afraid. Doesn’t mean it can’t be good.


  2. Lucy, I too have the ‘dog stuff’ thing! There’s a book by Beverly Nichols… now there’s a writer whose name I rarely hear these days… that despite its sentimental tone had me weeping at a description of the author returning in a dream to the garden of his youth, and hearing the approaching barks of his long-dead dog as it bounded through the woods and fields of a perfect English summer, joyful that its master had at last returned home. Yup… there I go!

    Great piece Dave. Highgate cemetery certainly gave you a heap of inspiration. Keep ’em coming. Love the elegiac tone of the last verse. Is that a little tear in my eye? Mmmmm, ‘fraid so! (Note to self: toughen up man, for Christ’s sake!)


  3. Yup, you’ve got the measure of us, Dave. Weepy dog stuff. None among your commenters, I imagine, has seen the Futurama episode Jurassic Bark. It is almost unendurably sad and I wept buckets when shown it by the children. Buckets and also barrels. Don’t watch it, dog people!

    But it’s the final four lines that do it with this one. How lovely. Thank you. And Maizy thanks you too.


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