Archives for posts with tag: dogs

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Return to Sender
by Betsy Mars

I am still waiting
to let go of Loki, hoping
God will see fit to return her
in some form or another
that I will recognize
when it happens
when I see her eyes
I will know all
is right and take my leave
with her, then I will
no longer grieve for her,
but that’s a lie,
for I will always miss
her mottled tongue
licking my hand, pulling
at my heart’s unraveling sleeve.

PAINTING: Summer Evening at Skagen by Peder Severin Kroyer.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I found this call so timely given the pandemic and the fact that, for many of us, so many things are or have been on hold: seeing loved ones, moving, finding a job, taking a vacation, making repairs, etc. This could have gone any number of directions, but what immediately popped into my head was my dog’s death. I adored her, but maybe due to the isolation and her role in helping me through this past year, I found this loss harder to take than my last dog’s death, even though she was equally beloved. I am not a real believer either in an omniscient being or in reincarnation, but I have often found myself saying to the Universe something along the lines of “Okay, that’s long enough. I want her back now,” and hoping somehow that she will reappear. I wasn’t nearly done with her.

MarsLoki

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars practices poetry, photography, pet maintenance, and publishes an occasional anthology through Kingly Street Press. Her second anthology, Floored, is now available on Amazon. “Pyriscence” was a winner in Alexandria Quarterly´s first line poetry contest series in 2020, and she was a finalist in both the Jack Grapes and Poetry Super Highway poetry contests. Her work has recently appeared in Verse-Virtual, Sky Island Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and Sheila-Na-Gig, among others. She is the author of Alinea (Picture Show Press) and co-author of In the Muddle of the Night with Alan Walowitz (Arroyo Seco Press). Visit her at marsmyst.wordpress.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO: The author and her beloved companion, Loki.

Laika2_full
A Dog in Space
by Lillian Nećakov 

I am still

waiting
lost in the flesh of a word
that once draped herself over
the tongues of those who
loved me

I am still

waiting
for the skinny boy with hands
gentle as snow
whose laughter hula hooped
the saints and seas

I am still

waiting
muscle lazy as mud
to be ferried past Galileo’s grooves
while the earth curves her back
against the un-dogged nebula

I am still

moving
past the blush of horizon
heart jackhammering against
g-force mongrel mother
orbiting my own eulogy
barked through the November streets
by dusty mutts
on the heels of extinction
past the moonbeam filament

I am still

waiting
in the flesh of a word
in the gutter of a prayer
in the underside
of a song.

ILLUSTRATION: Laika by Phineas X. Jones.

laika 11 phineas jones

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Laika, a stray from the streets of Moscow, occupied the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 launched into outer space on November 3, 1957. The first animal to orbit Earth, she did not survive the mission—a topic of ongoing discussion. 

ILLUSTRATION: Laika by Phineas X. Jones.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lillian Nećakov is the author of six books of poetry, numerous chapbooks, broadsides and leaflets. Her book il virus (a Feed Dog Book) was published by Anvil Press in April 2021. During the 1980s, she ran a micro press called “The Surrealist Poets Gardening Association” and sold her books on Toronto’s Yonge Street. She ran the Boneshaker Reading series from 2010-2020. She lives in Toronto and just might be working on a new book.

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Tables and Chairs
by Eleanor Lerman

I know what I look like
in the supermarket buying
jam and bread instead of
cooking up a plan. Or

tidying up behind the bank,
hoping for an accidental delivery
while I carry my little dog around
in a shoulder holster

Old and foolish. Not dangerous
anymore, plus unemployed: just a
kid without a kingdom, a babushka
smacked around by the wind

Ha! She thinks that little dog can shoot
And she still believes that she was born
in a monsoon season, in a bloody year
But who cares except the hospital?

Who cares? Perhaps the tables
and chairs that open up the
morning café and let me pay with
coins that represent sincerity

because if I can carry all that remains
in a single pocket then life will go on
for a few more hours. Then messages
will arrive in envelopes of pain

that taste like orange marmalade
That was the plan all along, devised
in the playland of loss, dementia
and ruin: to eat what was served

and say nothing about it. To tell
my secrets to no one but the little dog,
who represents eternity. To wear
the wind like a scarf and let the body

stand out in the rain, if that’s what it wants
If that will ease its suffering, poor thing
As if suffering exists. As if the fortune tellers
hired by the state are right in their prediction
that only one more bloody year

will pass until the infinite comes crashing
through the skylight and dinner cooks itself
As for me, I am still waiting to be saved by anyone
who loves their pet. Or a girl on a bicycle,

a boy in a dream. I am dreaming of
the way out of my dilemma: to live
because I want to or because it is really
jade that represents sincerity,

pale green jade and white flowers
that remain after the fires go out,
after I use the embers to make a necklace
that I will wear when I go shopping with

the little dog, who represents the time
that I have left. Which I will use as
best I can. Which is what I am doing now,
trying to help the broken heart of tomorrow

to buy its medicine. Which is how I spend
whatever I can earn: one penny at a time,
one dog day after another, one little life,
one beating heart. Which is what I believe:

that only thus may we embrace
again in the shopping malls of time
In the lanes and alleys where we were
really born. So read this as a signal that
all is forgiven. That the tables and chairs

are cooking up a plan that will cost us
nothing. That will let us walk out into the
dusty morning and partake, like good citizens
and blessed hooligans, of all that remains

PAINTING: Girl with Dog by Berthe Morisot (1886).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Tables and Chairs” is part of a new collection of poems, currently in progress. This will be the first collection of poetry I’ve put together in seven years because I’ve been focusing on writing fiction. For me, poetry is a way of talking to myself; it tends to demand my attention—meaning, poems demand to be written—when some internal change is taking place. With this new collection, the change involves being attentive to what’s happening to the way I think and the way I relate to the wider world as I get older. I was a bit of a wild child when I began writing poetry as a teenager; is the wildness still there? Is the spirit still rebellious? Is my work still the central focus of my life? When I need to answer these questions, I write poetry. Hence, “Tables and Chairs,” and the other poems that will be in the collection to be entitled Beautiful Denizens of the Deep, Dark Night. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eleanor Lerman, the author of numerous award-winning collections of poetry, short stories and novels, is a National Book Award finalist, has received both NEA and Guggenheim fellowships, and was awarded the Lenore Marshall Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets. Her most recent novel, Watkins Glen (Mayapple Press), will be published in June 2021. Visit her at eleanorlerman.com.

Enlight74
My Front Door
by Eileen Wesson

Before I was a door
I was an old oak tree
A canopy for fledgling life
The heart of the meadow
Barn owls hid their nests
In the nape of my branches
Squirrels slept in my hollow cavities
Woodpeckers returned year after year
Drumming acorns into my limbs
Widening the holes to raise their young
I was shade in the summer while
Families gathered
Children played hide ‘n seek
Squeals of laughter circled my trunk
Couples celebrated their vows
Promising to love one another forever, then
Promises were broken
I listened to their stories
My leaves brushed away their tears
I felt pocketknives carve initials
Deep into my core as, sober shattered
Stargazing lovers spent the nights with me
Asking endless questions
Demanding guarantees before risking
To love again
I said nothing
I was the heart of the meadow

Tract housing sectioned off the meadow
I was deemed unmanageable
I took up too much land
Oversized, they said
Too many low-hanging branches
A hazard, they said
Someone could get hurt, they said

Now I stand guard to
The entrance of my family
Protecting all that is precious
I listen to music
Hear their stories
I open and close to the
Gathering of families
Grandchildren playing, barbeques, weddings
Sometimes I
Smell like last night’s dinner
I’m adorned with wreaths
As the seasons change
I bloom year round
Painted green like the meadow
I once stood in
I am the heart of the house

WESSON IZZY
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My process as a writer combines decades of acting, voiceover work, and my love of communicating with animals that has widened my perspective of life.  This is a photo of Izzy and myself. She was my constant companion for 18 years. I rescued her off the streets of LA. She remained (feral) wild till her last day. I learned more from this beautiful soul than any of my animals. Izzy could not be touched, bathed, or nails clipped, so I sharped my telepathic skills to communicate with her.  She smelled like fresh wheat fields and was never sick.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eileen Wesson is an actress/writer & animal communicator who is a member of the Los Angeles Poets & Writers Collective. Her poems and essays have appeared in FRE&D publications, Silver Birch Press, CG magazine, and other journals and anthologies. She rescues all living creatures and lives in LA with a bunch of dogs.

JOHNSON
Haiku
by P M F Johnson

a small white dog
watches out the front door:
rain cools into snow

Originally published in Frogpond, Issue XXV:3.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Our dog Bogart used to wait for me to return from work every evening. I would see his face in the lower corner of the front door window, his ears perked up, until he spotted me. At which point he would vanish. To run tell my wife, I suppose. We still miss him. He was a very polite dog. Always waited his turn at the ice cream cone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: P M F Johnson has placed poems with Threepenny Review, Measure, Nimrod, Evansville Review, North American Review, Atlanta Review, and many others. He has won The Gerald Brady Senryu Award from Haiku Society of America, as well as a Plainsongs Award. He and his wife, the writer Sandra Rector, live in Minnesota. Learn more at PMFJohnson.com. Find him on Twitter @PMFJohnson1.

Dakota door damage
I had a dog who ate doors
by Joe Cottonwood

Take a look at this entry.
A rescue door from a garage sale.
Paid too much but it was love at first sight.
Flowers painted on the one big beveled pane,
smoothest glass I’ll ever clean.
Then came a dog like a chewing machine.

Dakota ate doors.
She, too, a rescue
found wandering the streets of San Mateo.
About her history, Dakota wouldn’t speak
but in the story for sure
there’s a shredded door.

So I cut out a panel, installed a pet flap.
Dakota went out, Dakota came back.
My friend to the end.

Now three children and six dogs later,
folks tell me it’s time to re-rescue
with new molding, sandpaper, wood putty too.
But no. Each gnaw,
each claw scratch speaks as decor.
Emblems of Dakota.
I’ll never restore.

Dakota teeth 1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. His latest book is Foggy Dog. Visit him at joecottonwood.com.

Sittner_1
Free to Be
by Porsche S.

MY door
my dog door
allows freedom
allows independence
it flaps
it flaps open
it flaps closed

I use my nose
coming & going
learned to do it
with favorite treats
1 inside & 1 outside
it took 2 treats
easy

wildlife teases me
squirrels run fence pickets
chipmunks dig up gardens
moles make surface tunnel tubes
rabbits leave organic kibble
gopher requires eviction
I harass them all

as long as I know when
Mom inserts panel blocker
my nose & face
avoid being smooshed
freedom
independence
life is good

Sittner_2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Porsche is an ancient standard Schnauzer who believes she’s still young. In her retirement, she has recently finished a memoir that her human Mom, experienced at dogspeak, is editing. Porsche enjoys telling the tales of her interesting life; she is always ready for another chapter.

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ABOUT THE EDITOR: Leslie Sittner’s print works are available in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press (2016 -17-18-19-21), Adirondack Life Magazine, BraVa anthology, and read on NPR. Online poems and prose reside at unearthed, Silver Birch Press, 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories, and Epic Protest Poems. A collection of essays about European travels with her ex-husband in the late 1960s awaits publishing. Leslie is currently editing the memoir Porsche mentions above.

watercolor girl

Tending the Dogs
by Elizabeth Hilts

“A job would be good for her,” Mrs. Pierce told my mother when I was 12 and the chaos of Mother’s schizophrenia was taking a firm hold on our lives. “She should go work with my daughter, tend the dogs.”

Mother drove me over to the Count and Countess’s stone mansion on the Point. He had escaped the Hungarian Revolution with his title; she was rumored to be a Guggenheim. They bred Miniature Schnauzers. Countess and Mother chatted over tea and small cakes carried in by a uniformed maid. “She can start on Saturday morning,” the Countess said.

Five mornings a week the cook doled out each dog’s breakfast: hard-boiled egg, cottage cheese, and kibble. I carried the bowls out to the kennel where the dogs quivered in their crates, stacked four high, five wide. Twenty of them, plus the Count’s dog, Dolly, who I collected from his suite where he lounged on the bed, lounged in the bubble bath. Dolly would not come when called. “You’ll have to come get her,” he’d tell me, his robe falling open, the bubbles parting.

After breakfast, I brushed their teeth, hand clamped firmly around each muzzle while they growled deep in their throats. Washed and blow-dried their cunning little beards. They took their revenge during the walk around the point of land overlooking the tidal inlet, skittering into the underbrush before charging out to nip at my ankles. I was already accustomed to the mad ambush but wasn’t yet immunized from fear.

The cook made me lunch: hot soup and a sandwich, doled out on plain white china. My mother had already stopped cooking by then. I ate in the kennel, understanding that it was possible to be grateful for small simple things.

IMAGE: “Miniature Schnauzer” by Watercolor Girl. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I loved and hated my first job in almost equal parts but I’d never completely understood why, of course, until attempting to write this piece. That’s part of why I write: to gain access to the parts of myself that remain shrouded somehow.

Hilts

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Hilts writes memoir, essays, and fiction; though she has written poetry, no one needs to really know about that. During the academic year, she toils in the fields of academe as an adjunct instructor of English and related subjects. She is in a constant state of revision both as a writer and as a human being. Her work has appeared in Spry Literary Journal, Extract(s), and in the Black Lawrence Press anthology, Feast.

pablo romero
Wild
by Judy Kronenfeld

Door accidentally left ajar
and the new dog’s gone,
a splendid flame
devouring the open road.

I scream her name—
the one anthropomorphized
into being as she licked
my fingers through the bars
at the pound—and am not
surprised it has
no claim on her.

Shocked at the profundity
of my grief, I scour
the neighborhood on foot—
wet-faced, unhinged—
then in my car, windows open,
yelling hoarsely into the wind,
but she’s split. The streets
rebuke me with
their emptiness.

Our mammal blood
finds beauty in some furred
beings, as clearly as in
a human face. I see hers
with all the gravity
of a memorial portrait, remember
how we joked “she’s a beauty
and she knows it,” as if that beauty
reflected positively on us!, how we
chuckled as her long white rump fur
swung to and fro as she trotted
chicly before us—like tassels
dangling from a chorus girl’s bodice.

An hour later there she is,
on the porch, waiting politely
to be let in, the vixen! She settles
into her corner of the living room,
agrees to her evening walk
on the leash, licks my cheek when I bend
to release her again. And though I feel
like the teacher whose student
sat in the front row, gah-gah-eyed
all quarter, then slammed her
on the evals, of course I forgive
my dog (as if she understood that)
because something lost–so missed—
returned, returns more than what
was lost. Oh children are patted
down again, comforters drawn
to their chins, parents in easy
chairs after tucking real children in—not
touching pictures to their lips, hating
themselves for that second they weren’t
vigilant—kith and kin at home
in their tracts, ancestors tucked
into his and her plots, none of them
flooded into the next county,
tsunamied to another country—you think this is
too much, but look at us, one furred,
one not, neighborly as we were
in our Pleistocene cave at the beginning
of our long and peaceful friendship,
our housebreaking of the wild, not scheduled
to burn up in the sun, but at home
at the hearth of the world,
our scents marked here forever.

IMAGE: Watercolor by Pablo Romero. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

SOURCE: Originally published in Cimarron Review 163 (Spring, 2008); reprinted in Judy Kronenfeld, Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012).

Sweet Izzy curled up in her bed

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
My relatively newly adopted mutt, with whom I fell in love at the country pound, took off not too long afterwards, when we were busy with house renovations, and the door might have been left ajar. The experience was so piercing, and the relief so overwhelming that everything I had ever thought and felt about loss, as well as recovery, and related current world and local events (well, the poem made me realize I had been thinking about these subjects) came pouring out, and got swept in.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Izzy, our dog (though she’s quite a bit older here than she was when she ran away from home).

judy kronenfeld

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judy Kronenfeld’s fourth collection of poetry, Bird Flying through the Banquet, was published by FutureCycle Press in March 2017. Her most recent prior books of poetry are Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012) and Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, second edition, (Antrim House, 2012), winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize. Her poems have previously appeared in Avatar, American Poetry Journal, Calyx, Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, DMQ Review, Hiram Poetry Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Louisville Review, Natural Bridge, The Pedestal, Portland Review, Sequestrum, Spoon River Poetry Review, Stirring, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other print and online journals, and in 20 anthologies. She is Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, University of California, Riverside, and an Associate Editor of the online poetry journal Poemeleon. For more information, please see her website, judykronenfeld.com.

schmidt-2
Moving
by Rhonda Schmidt

At eight years old, I knew bugs and dirt.
I knew bare feet, weeping willows, and sunshine.
My home was the yard behind my house,
the yard where I sat with my brother, my dog, my turtle.
Days passed slowly there, cicadas hummed loudly,
calling attention to the quiet house in front.

Our dog, old and almost blind, was our comfort.
We told him everything, and with one ear cocked sideways,
he listened as we buried our face in his soft fur.

We shared our yard with doodle bugs.
Plump little larvae,
they built homes of sand, perfect little pits,
scattered under the dead oak tree.

There they stayed until they grew and took flight,
we watched them work,
as they flicked sand into the air, moving backwards,
master builders.

Then we gathered little sticks and stirred the sand lightly,
thrilled as we watched them rise to the top of the dirt,
and smiled as they scurried to hide,
sometimes catching one,
feeling the little feet tickle our fingers.

Maybe we set our destiny in motion,
for we would leave our backyard that summer,
our tears and pleading ignored,
our sticks and turtle left behind, the cicada’s silent now.

And so we sat in our father’s Chevy,
his cigarette smoke stung our eyes, his gruff voice offered nothing.
Our eyes wide, our voices silenced,
we pulled deep into ourselves, and waited.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In this photo I am eight years old, in my backyard with my beagle, Babe (Midland Texas, 1968).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In our family, we moved often—every three to four years. This was hard for my brother and me. The memory of digging for doodle bugs is a good one. And even though not everyone has seen doodle bugs, they are interesting little guys.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rhonda Schmidt started writing in her fifties, after working as a Registered Nurse for 30 years. She is a graduate student at Southern Methodist University in the Masters of Liberal Studies program. She is a native Texan, living in Dallas, and  yearns to move to any place where summer does not resemble hell.