Archives for posts with tag: dogs

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SELF-PORTRAIT AS DOG WITH A MOUTHFUL OF FEATHERS
by Kathryn Almy

I didn’t kill it myself, but I seem to float
towards decay.
           Instinct says stop,
drop and roll whenever any corpse washes up,

sand in my fur, this smell
changing me in a chemical way
not even my ancestors understood.

Fluff and bones are trophies, like snow-
flakes, socks, bumblebees: treasures I bury.

I open my mouth to shout in triumph, but
out comes only a hoarse croak
and puff of sticky, tickling down

          —the blades and barbs are black, mashed,
          the little white eyes hardly show,
          the iridescence dimmed.

It feels like being beaten for crimes I cannot see.

There is a knot within me: feathers, bugs, scum, and bark

          —everything I have eaten,

this eternal world beyond the reach of words.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am fortunate to live in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a town of many fine writers. Just one of these is Diane Seuss, for whose class I wrote this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathryn Almy‘s poetry and creative nonfiction have been published in print and on-line publications, including the Great Lakes Review narrative map, City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry, Shady Side Review, and The Smoking Poet. Visit her at kathrynalmy.com.

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LOVE LETTER NO. 1: TO MY PIT-BULL SELF
by Sarah Thursday

I love the teeth of your love
how you pit-bull deep
into the flesh of loving
How you make shrines
in the empty spaces,
abandoned apartments
Shrines to former residents
of borrowed books and toiletries
envelopes full of photographs
and letters in pen
How you never fill
the same space with new
but keep building out
expand the frames and floors
How you know when to change the locks
and when to nail it shut

I love how you calculate
estimate the risk
How you trust
the unnamed algorithm
the intuitive push, flashing “Yes,
love this one, let that one in!”
How soft your wrought-iron grip
holds every name tight
each face, its own story
each moment, a glass in your pane
How you refuse to argue
about the wrong
or right way to love

I love how so much of it matters
how you will forgive
as many times
as they will call
and ask for it
How you defend this weakness
with the expense of wasted time
Your time-to-give being
your love currency
not words, not gifts,
not your doing-for-me
But your minutes and hours
your speak to me, eat with me
your listen and watch with me
sit in this space of air
I breathe with me is love

I love how love-greedy you get
How you collect time
and stuff it in bags and boxes
shove it on shelves, in closets
covering walls, blocking doorways
in empty apartments
You guard-dog this house
an unapologetic hoarder
How you refuse to purge it
refuse to loosen your grip
Set shrines in windowsills
light blood candles
There is always room
for more

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I consider this poem a self-portrait because it describes what I love about the way that I love. This was inspired by another poet’s love letter to herself. I thought about how hard it is for me to let go of others, but that I love that about myself. I love like a pit-bull.

IMAGE: “The Passion Pit” by Dean Russo. Prints available at fineartamerica.com. Visit the artist at deanrussoart.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Thursday calls Long Beach, California, her home, where she advocates for local poets and poetry events. She runs a Long-Beach-focused poetry website called CadenceCollective.net, co-hosts a monthly reading with one of her poetry heroes, G. Murray Thomas, and just started Sadie Girl Press as a summer job and way to help publish local and emerging poets. She just completed her first full length poetry collection, All the Tiny Anchors. Find and follow her on SarahThursday.com, Facebook, or Twitter.

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NEVER BITE MY DOG
by Catfish McDaris

There I was in the elevator
with my 8 year old Shih Tzu,
named May, she weighed 13 lbs
& was very well behaved

A boy about 4 years old got
on & charged at my dog, I
told him please don’t do that

He ignored me & bent down
& bit my dog’s ear, she yelped
in pain, I spoke firmly to the
child telling him it was naughty
to hurt the doggie, his mother
just stood there & kept quiet

The 6 people in the elevator
yelled at me, “Leave the kid
alone, he was just having fun
with the mutt”

My dog gave them all the evil
eye & did something they won’t
forget until, May Day.

PHOTO: “Shih Tzu dog” by Geri Lavrov. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catfish McDaris has been published widely in publications that include The Louisiana Review, George Mason Univ. Press, and New Coin from Rhodes University in South Africa. He’s recently been translated into French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Tagalog, and Esperanto. His 25 years of published material is in the Special Archives Collection at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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GOLDEN RETRIEVALS
by Mark Doty

Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention
seconds at a time. Catch? I don’t think so.
Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who’s—oh
joy—actually scared. Sniff the wind, then

I’m off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue
of any thrillingly dead thing. And you?
Either you’re sunk in the past, half our walk,
thinking of what you never can bring back,

or else you’re off in some fog concerning
—tomorrow, is that what you call it? My work:
to unsnare time’s warp (and woof!), retrieving,
my haze-headed friend, you. This shining bark,

a Zen master’s bronzy gong, calls you here,
entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.

 ***

“Golden Retrievals” appears in Mark Doty’s collection Sweet Machine: Poems, available at Amazon.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Doty is an American poet and memoirist, and the winner of the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008. (Read more at wikipedia.org)

PAINTING: “Corbi,” watercolor by Susan Crouch.

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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.