Archives for posts with tag: dogs

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IN PRAISE OF DOGS WHO HOWL AT THE MOON
by John Brantingham

Some nights,
everything on Earth is loose,
and you feel yourself slipping off gravity’s
mooring, slipping off into
the night, feel the moon’s going to grab
you and pull you out into space
and slingshot you past Mars and Jupiter
out to where Pluto
and all the rest of the solar system’s losers live,
out where you will never see
you wife laugh the way she
laughs when you do your impression of her father,
laugh the way a person can laugh only
when it’s funny but she’s ashamed too,
laugh with the wild joy of a bear
waking up after months of sleep—
on those nights you want to grab onto something
wedged deep and tight as a burr in a furry ear
and scream your complaints at the moon
as the dogs howl
and the bears roar and everyone shouts
together—you want to yell that no one
belongs out there in the cold with Pluto
that we belong here where summer love is
and anyone who loves and howls
is one of Earth’s favorite children.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  John Brantingham’s poetry and fiction have been published in hundreds of magazines and venues, including Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Pearl, Tears in the Fence, Confrontation, and The Journal. His books include East of Los Angelesand Let Us All Pray to Our Own Strange Gods (forthcoming from World Parade Books). He works at Mt. San Antonio College, where he teaches English and directs the creative writing programs.

“In Praise of Dogs Who Howl at the Moon” and other poetry by John Brantingham appears in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology(June 2013), available at Amazon.com.

Illustration: “Luna and the Moon Wolf,” watercolor by Gretchen Del Rio. Prints available at etsy.com.

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MY DOG PRACTICES GEOMETRY
by Cathryn Essinger

I do not understand the poets who tell me
that I should not personify. Every morning
the willow auditions for a new role

outside my bedroom window—today she is
Clytemnestra; yesterday a Southern Belle,
lost in her own melodrama, sinking on her skirts.

Nor do I like the mathematicians who tell me
I cannot say, “The zinnias are counting on their
fingers,” or “The dog is practicing her geometry,”

even though every day I watch her using
the yard’s big maple as the apex of a triangle
from which she bisects the circumference

of the lawn until she finds the place where
the rabbit has escaped, or the squirrel upped
the ante by climbing into a new Euclidian plane.

She stumbles across the lawn, eyes pulling
her feet along, gaze fixed on a rodent working
the maze of the oak as if it were his own invention,

her feet tangling in the roots of trees, and tripping,
yes, even over themselves, until I go out to assist,
by pointing at the squirrel, and repeating, “There!

There!” But instead of following my outstretched
arm to the crown of the tree, where the animal is
now lounging under a canopy of leaves,

catching its breath, charting its next escape,
she looks to my mouth, eager to read my lips,
confident that I—who can bring her home

from across the field with a word, who
can speak for the willow and the zinnia—
can surely charm a squirrel down from a tree.

“My Dog Practices Geometry” by Cathryn Essinger originally appeared in the January 2002 edition of Poetry.

PAINTING: “Dogs Autumn Squirrel Patrol” by Renee DeLeon — prints available at etsy.com.

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BARKING
by Jim Harrison

The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

PAINTING: “Bark at the moon” by Robert Wolverton, Jr. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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THE DOGS AT LIVE OAK BEACH, SANTA CRUZ
by Alicia Ostriker

As if there could be a world
Of absolute innocence
In which we forget ourselves
 
The owners throw sticks
And half-bald tennis balls
Toward the surf
And the happy dogs leap after them
As if catapulted—
 
Black dogs, tan dogs,
Tubes of glorious muscle—
 
Pursuing pleasure
More than obedience
They race, skid to a halt in the wet sand,
Sometimes they’ll plunge straight into
The foaming breakers
 
Like diving birds, letting the green turbulence
Toss them, until they snap and sink
 
Teeth into floating wood
Then bound back to their owners
Shining wet, with passionate speed
For nothing,
For absolutely nothing but joy.

“The Dogs at Live Beach, Santa Cruz” appears in Alicia Ostriker’s collection The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998), available at Amazon.com.

Photo: “Retriever at Live Oak Beach, Santa Cruz” by Christopher Matthews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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CANIS MAJOR
by Robert Frost

The great Overdog
That heavenly beast

With a star in one eye

Gives a leap in the east.

He dances upright

All the way to the west

And never once drops

On his forefeet to rest.

I’m a poor underdog,

But to-night I will bark

With the great Overdog

That romps through the dark.

NOTE: Canis Major is one of the 88 modern constellations, and was included in the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy‘s 48 constellations. Its name is Latin for “greater dog,” and is the constellation is commonly represented as one of the dogs following Orion the hunter. Canis Major contains Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, known as the “dog star” — bright because of its proximity to our solar system. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

IMAGE: Antique drawing of Canis Major. Prints available at etsy.com.

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MY DOG PRACTICES GEOMETRY
by Cathryn Essinger

I do not understand the poets who tell me
that I should not personify. Every morning
the willow auditions for a new role

outside my bedroom window—today she is
Clytemnestra; yesterday a Southern Belle,
lost in her own melodrama, sinking on her skirts.

Nor do I like the mathematicians who tell me
I cannot say, “The zinnias are counting on their
fingers,” or “The dog is practicing her geometry,”

even though every day I watch her using
the yard’s big maple as the apex of a triangle
from which she bisects the circumference

of the lawn until she finds the place where
the rabbit has escaped, or the squirrel upped
the ante by climbing into a new Euclidian plane.

She stumbles across the lawn, eyes pulling
her feet along, gaze fixed on a rodent working
the maze of the oak as if it were his own invention,

her feet tangling in the roots of trees, and tripping,
yes, even over themselves, until I go out to assist,
by pointing at the squirrel, and repeating, “There!

There!” But instead of following my outstretched
arm to the crown of the tree, where the animal is
now lounging under a canopy of leaves,

catching its breath, charting its next escape,
she looks to my mouth, eager to read my lips,
confident that I—who can bring her home

from across the field with a word, who
can speak for the willow and the zinnia—
can surely charm a squirrel down from a tree.

“My Dog Practices Geometry” by Cathryn Essinger originally appeared in the January 2002 edition of Poetry.

PAINTING: “Dogs Autumn Squirrel Patrol” by Renee DeLeon — prints available at etsy.com.

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In 1951, E.B. White – author of the beloved classics Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little – got a bit defensive when accused of not paying his dog tax, and fired off a letter to his accusers (excerpts below).

12 April 1951

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, York Avenue and East 92nd Street, New York, 28, NY

Dear Sirs:

I have your letter, undated, saying that I am harboring an unlicensed dog in violation of the law. If by “harboring” you mean getting up two or three times every night to pull Minnie’s blanket up over her, I am harboring a dog all right. The blanket keeps slipping off…of course with this night duty of mine, the way the blanket slips and all, I haven’t had any real rest in years. Minnie is twelve.

…She wears her metal license tag but I must say I don’t particularly care for it, as it is in the shape of a hydrant, which seems to me a feeble gag, besides being pointless in the case of a female. It is hard to believe that any state in the Union would circulate a gag like that and make people pay money for it, but Maine is always thinking of something….

You asked about Minnie’s name, sex, breed, and phone number. She doesn’t answer the phone. She is a dachshund and can’t reach it, but she wouldn’t answer it even if she could, as she has no interest in outside calls. I did have a dachshund once, a male, who was interested in the telephone, and who got a great many calls, but Fred was an exceptional dog (his name was Fred) and I can’t think of anything offhand that he wasn’t interested in. The telephone was only one of a thousand things. He loved life — that is, he loved life if by “life” you mean “trouble,” and of course the phone is almost synonymous with trouble. Minnie loves life, too, but her idea of life is a warm bed, preferably with an electric pad, and a friend in bed with her, and plenty of shut-eye, night and days. She’s almost twelve. I guess I’ve already mentioned that…

Sincerely yours,

E. B. White

Photo: E.B. White and his dachshund Minnie in the early 1940s.

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“Painting depends on freedom. When you’re feeling completely free, you can create, and this power to create is, in turn, the greatest freedom of all.” GEORGE RODRIGUE

For over 20 years, Cajun artist George Rodrigue has honored his deceased dog Tiffany with hundreds of blue dog paintings. I never get tired of looking at these charming, engaging, thought-provoking works of art. RIP Tiffany…

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“I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.”

JOHN STEINBECK

PAINTING: “Green Dog No. 10″ by Zhou Chunya

Editor’s Note: Several years ago, I saw the above painting from Zhou Chunya’s Green Dog series at a Chicago art exhibition, and was awestruck by the huge canvas (18 feet wide by 23 feet high — no, that’s not a typo!). Most of the canvas was blank and the image of the dog appeared in the lower right. As I recall, this painting’s price was over $200,000. Thinking this was a typo, I asked the woman in charge of the booth the cost of the painting, and she confirmed the price. Since that time, I’ve learned more about Zhou’s Green Dog paintings and his touching relationship with his dog Hei Gen (Black Root), who died in 1999. Find out more about this fascinating artist and series of paintings here.

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PROMENADE
Poem by Charles Bukowski

each night
well, almost every night
early in the evening
I see the old man
and his small black and white dog.
It’s dark on these streets
and no matter how often he has seen me
he always gives me 
a look that is frightened
and yet bold –
bold because his small brittle dog is 
with him.
he wears old clothing
a wrinkled cap
cotton gloves
large square-toed shoes.
we never speak.
he is my age but I feel younger…
he and his dog give me a feeling of 
peace.
they belong
like the street signs
the lawns
the yellow windows
the sidewalks
the sirens and the telephone
wires.
the driveways
the parked cars
the moon when there is a moon. 

Photo: Dan Wood, ALL RIGHT RESERVED