Archives for posts with tag: dogs

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.

Sittner_3a

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).

schmidt1

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.

tony
Bookworms
by James Penha

                    “Where would we be without books?”
                    –KCRW’s Bookworm theme song

Needing to read “One Art,” I grabbed from my bookshelf
this Jakarta morning the Bishop Poems but they wouldn’t give.
I tugged; they resisted; I rocked them, and only slowly
did they swing forward a tad, in concert with Berryman,
suprisingly, and with Bukowski and, with less insistent rhythms,
Aiken. Finally, the clutch of poets broke from their hinges
and the mulch of thousands of white worm-like larvae set
loose blindly seeking shelter. Manic now, I ripped forward
all the poets and they came apart in pieces, like little cardboard
honeycombs. The Homers had always rested horizontally for reasons
I didn’t recall, and when I touched the cover of the topmost,
Lattimore’s Iliad, my fingers went through Troy as easily as Hector slew
Patroclus. Homer, all of them, disintegrated pyreless, into ashes.
Four shelves of books I had carried over continents, over
decades, digested. The shelves as well: these creatures
must be termites, I reasoned, and as I Raided their cradles, can after
can after can beyond the limits of rational killing,
shards of imagery and metaphor ricocheted in the fog of this war.

And later in the day, the lung of my ancient cocker spaniel,
wheezing for weeks, riddled with boils and tumor, quietly
collapsed, his epic life ending in ellipses.

I am left to pet your old photographs and recite Bishop by kindlelight.

SOURCE: Originally appeared in THEMA 27.2 (2015): 73-74.

PHOTO: The author’s beloved cocker spaniel, Tony.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem’s narrative is true. Oh, how I wish it were not. I collected and shipped these books, vital, I thought, for my teaching, my writing, and my soul, from Queens, NY to Detroit to Hong Kong to Dutchess County to Staten Island to four different houses in Indonesia including the one where I lost them all and wrote this poem. The dog, whom I loved too, at least lived his whole life in Indonesia.

penha

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. Snakes and Angels, a collection of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales, won the 2009 Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest; No Bones to Carry, a volume of his poetry, earned the 2007 New Sins Press Editors’ Choice Award. He edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Visit him on Twitter @JamesPenha.

AUTHOR PHOTO: The poet . . . in happier times . . . with a book.

Chew1
Across the Country, Little Ford, Big Dog
by Abby Chew

I started on a Quaker farm in Ohio, where I raised goats and taught my students to waltz and read sonnets and grow food.
I drove my red truck and my white dog to Maine.
Then back through Ohio, toward Indiana and Iowa—we liked names bookended by vowels.
I’d said goodbye to all the friends I’d ever had.
At Council Bluffs, we considered all we could see. All that lay out there across the plains.
We drove through Colorado the day of the Aurora shooting. We watched the sun bleed itself into the mountains.
I laughed out loud driving through canyons. I’d never been inside a canyon before.
We drove through rain. The little truck did just fine, weighted down and low, barreling on.
We are peanut butter sandwiches in a parking lot at Arches and bemoaned the National Park rules about dogs. We wished we had everything in the world all to ourselves.
We stayed one night in a fancy Las Vegas hotel. Every other dog was snack-food-sized. We’ve never been back.
We got to California and made a new home.
We met a man.
We got a second, smaller dog.
We still have the truck.
We still look East every day.

PHOTO: The author and Alice the dog at the Brite Spot in Echo Park, Los Angeles, blocks from where they live with the new man and the new dog.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this little poem, I wanted only the facts that brought Alice the Dog and me out here to the coast where we now live. A list. Because that trip was so terrible and wonderful. It could only be a list.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abby Chew earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Currently, she teaches at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica, California.

gonzalez2a
Be Thankful for What You Got,”
William DeVaughn (1974)

THANKFUL FOR WHAT I GOT
by liz gonzález

In my North Town neighborhood,
pit bulls and German shepherds,
trained to kill, jump spiked fences
and crunch Chihuahuas like taquitos.
I carry a big stick when walking Chacho,
my cream and caramel Jack Chi.
We circle a two-block radius,
stuck on flat concrete and asphalt,
stuck seeing the same houses and streets.
Whenever we can, Chacho and I
hop in my ‘95 Toyota Tercel,
and make a quick escape.

We park at the Signal Hill
Home Depot lot,
hike up Skyline Drive,
up the gated community’s
winding paved paths,
past the squeak of bobbing oil pumps.
I’m breathless; Chacho’s ready to run.
We speed walk around Hilltop
Park’s rim and Panorama Drive.
Air swept by Santa Ana winds
reveals Los Angeles high rises
and San Bernardino mountains.
The cobalt blue Walter
Pyramid rises from treetops.
Huntington Beach’s jagged
shore shimmers and froths.
Off the coast of Long Beach,
yachts and freight ships
sail by artificial THUMS Islands.
Behind the Queen Mary,
gantry cranes stand erect,
like metal dinosaurs
ready to do some heavy lifting.

Chacho leads the way on White
Point’s foot-carved trails.
Concrete frames brush, ocean,
and sky in Battery Bunkers’
empty gun encasement.
Salt and sage scent the breeze.
Fennel, that interloper,
waves tiny yellow buds.
A cactus wren feasts
on swollen prickly pear fruit.
Chacho pulls the leash taut
while I stand in awe of the view.
Catalina Island on a fog-free day.
White sunlight rides the ripples.
A lone speedboat
rips the serene surface.

A supermoon illuminates
the Seal Beach boardwalk.
Dusk dabs stuttering clouds
purple-pink. The sinking sun
spills amber honey into lampposts
lining the wooden pier.
Chacho can’t read “No Dogs.”
He runs unleashed, kicking up sand
smooth as a whisper.

After a two or more mile jaunt,
my t-shirt sweat-drenched,
we lounge on Beachwood BBQ’s
dog-friendly patio
in downtown Long Beach.
Chacho nibbles on corn bread.
I sip a pint of craft lager,
eat a small salmon salad—
my version of suds and grub,

and give grace.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Chacho at White Point Royal Palms Beach” (San Pedro, California) by liz gonzález.

liz gonzalez zwark

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: liz gonzález is a fourth generation Southern Californian. Her poetry, fiction, and memoirs have appeared in numerous literary journals, periodicals, and anthologies. She has poems forthcoming in Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond and is the author of the limited edition poetry collection Beneath Bone. liz’s awards include an Irvine Fellowship at the Lucas Artists Residency Program and a Macondo Foundation Casa Azul Writer’s Residency. She works as writing consultant and teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Visit her at www.lizgonzalez.com.