Archives for posts with tag: pets

If You See a Dog Who Fits This Description, Please Reply
by Steve Klepetar

Has a long, lolling tongue, red highway winding through mist,
this dog who has hunted serene in green woods, deep north
where wild chickens roam, dug up nests between cherry and oak,

swum out through grass-rich ponds, her fine long ears floating
at water’s edge. She barks little, in blurry clouds of sound, music
of scent, and breeze scurrying through honey fur. In the landscape

of dreams, even wandering birds cannot escape gravity’s delirious
pull. Memory braids their feathers, crimson tips on bright black
wings. This dog will know their names, place each flight path

PHOTO: Cocoa Klepetar.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Her name was Cocoa, and we found her chasing a flock of white birds in the park near our house. It was as if she just reappeared from nowhere. This is the lost dog notice I would like to have written, and attached to every lamppost and telephone pole in town.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, but is currently working in Fremantle, in Western Australia. His work has appeared worldwide in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, Phenomenal Literature, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including four in 2016). Recent collections  include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press. Two new collections appeared in January 2017: A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and Family Reunion (Big Table Publishing).

pablo romero
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

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

Sweet Izzy curled up in her bed

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,

Summer Lost in Summer
by Martina Gallegos

I got her just before the end of spring;
she was boisterous as can be
and refused to sleep in her bed.
She was easy to potty-trained
and quickly loved to go for walks.
She didn’t mind baths too much
and ran like a Tazmanian Devil afterwards.
It was the same at the doggie park,
but all this happened before I got sick.
She even ran out of the house a few times
and ran super fast and looked like a Bambi,
but we always managed to catch her.
On my first outing after my incident,
she went with me to celebrate 4th of July;
the idea of firecrackers didn’t clue me in;
they were neither good for her nor me,
but I could cover my ears, not she.
Then she started smelling food all over;
her rear perked up quickly.
She wanted food and wasn’t going to wait.
She began pulling away from me,
and I couldn’t hold her back; I was too weak.
My weak left hand didn’t help my right;
I let go, and she zoomed out of sight.
I saw when a lady took hold of the leash,
but I could barely walk; I’d lost summer
in midsummer.
I hoped she’d come back but never did;
I missed having her sleep next to me
and take naps in my lap and going for walks.
I’d cry for many nights and actually
felt her next to me but never was.
It’s been almost five years, and I still miss her;
I’d ask for her back if I saw her again
even though now I have another rescue pet.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I took Summer’s picture at the beginning of summer 2013; she’d just taken a bath and was rolling on my bed.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’d lost the sweetest rescue dog to cancer, so after a couple of years I realized I needed a companion since my daughter was going off to college. We learned somebody was giving puppies away. My daughter, my brother, and I went to visit the family. They told us they’d planned to open the gate and let the pups free. When my daughter was shown one of the pups, I knew she was going home with us, and she did. This was back in late 2012. I lost my pet July 4, 2013, and I still miss all my pets.

Gallegos Robles

Martina Gallegos 
came to the U.S. from Mexico as a teenager and lived in Altadena and Pasadena through high school. She then moved to Oxnard and attended community college and university, getting her teaching credential. She graduated with her M.A. June 2015 after a severe stroke. Works have appeared in Altadena Review, Hometown Pasadena, Silver Birch Press, Spectrum, Somos en escrito, Spirit Fire Review, and Basta! She was named San Gabriel Valley Top Ten Poet. Her book, Stepping Stones: Journal to Recovery from Stroke and Brain Injury is now also available on Amazon.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I don’t recall who took my picture, but it was the same year, 2013, at College Park in Oxnard, California.

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).


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.

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.


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.

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.

Moving with a Siamese Cat
by Brenda Davis Harsham

There is no agony more sublime
than moving with a Siamese cat,
yowling, howling in his box
for hours on end
until any end seems
more appealing
than continuing.
He refuses food,
refuses water,
and stares at me with
enormous freaked-out eyes,
ears back in his I’ll-Get-You look
with fangs bared.
When I release him in a motel,
my nerves are shot, I put out
food and water before I
eat myself, but it’s no good.
All night.
Without stop.
Sniffing every corner,
stalking every shadow,
walking along mirror tops,
falling into the tub,
all while giving
an unearthly howl
of betrayal, rage, bewilderment
spiced with promises
of revenge.
If a cat could file for divorce,
moving two days
from home in a U-Haul
would be under
mental cruelty
and irreconcilable differences
Why did no one mention
before I told this story?

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken in 1994, long after my cat had forgiven me for torturing him.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem required time travel to 1991, way back to a few of the darkest days of my 18-year love affair with a Siamese cat I miss dearly.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brenda Davis Harsham lives in New England. She’s been a McDonald’s cashier, graphic artist, editor, lawyer and writing teacher. When she isn’t writing, she snaps photographs, makes art, invents recipes and reads to her kids. Her poetry and prose has been published in on-line literary venues, including Silver Birch Press. A poem is forthcoming in the Best of Today’s Little Ditty Anthology.

by Mila Podlewski

I’m not allowed a pet.

My mom doesn’t allow it.
The landlord doesn’t allow it.
My younger brother the scaredy cat doesn’t allow it.

So I took a rock from our front yard.
Or a stone…

     I’m not sure the difference between a rock and a stone. The one I      found was smooth and shiny and dark grey. That seems more like a      stone than a rock to me. “Stone” sounds fancier and pretty. Rocks      are the things that are rough and you trip over or scrape your knees      on.


I took the stone and painted a green stripe down the middle.
I filled in the back end with more green.
On the front I painted two small circles with one smaller circle in the middle of each.
Like a turtle, you see.
(For those whose imaginations don’t work so great.)

I sit it on my desk when I do homework and on the floor beside me when I play.
It can’t move on its own but I’ve seen plenty of turtles that never move.
That’s what they do: sit there and stare.
Honestly, I would have liked a dog.
I’m just not a good enough artist.

But, it’s okay.
Turtles are excellent pets.
They’re very easy.

PHOTOGRAPH: Venice Beach, California, 1994, age two.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: If I had written a poem at the time of my struggles with a petless life, I believe this would have been it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mila Podlewski is a recent college graduate living in Los Angeles, California. She has previously been published in Scum Mag, blogs at, and is slowly growing comfortable in calling herself a writer.

Cathy on bike
All day by the mirror—
by Cathy McArthur

my parakeet looks at himself
his tail waving
two small feathers on his wing.

I draw us while he sings,
a white and yellow hat
on my head.

this simple happiness.

His beak is a fine comb
teasing, dressing me up
for dancing,

I laugh at my tangled hair,
by the table in the sunny kitchen,
holding crayons, paper.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age 11 in Woodside, New York.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The above poem is part of an early childhood memory. As a child, my home was always filled with family pets, and they seemed to be a part of my creative life. I couldn’t locate an old photo of my parakeet, Melody, with me in that kitchen.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cathy McArthur’s (aka Cathy Palermo’s) work recently appeared in Barrow Street and is forthcoming in Blueline. She has also published in the Bellevue Literary Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Hanging Loose, Blue Fifth Review, Gargoyle, Lumina, Jacket, WSQ, and others. She teaches creative writing and composition at The City College of New York.

love the child
by Lindi-Ann Hewitt-Coleman

my eyes were so big
they swallowed the world
in all its dew spangled beauty
and bone shattered pain

my eyes were so big
they swallowed the ocean
and the mermaid and the starfish
and the deep breath whale
swam inside me

my eyes were so big
i did not have a face
or a body or
wild witch hair
where my cat
black as night
hid velvet paws
around my neck.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: I grew up on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. I befriended this feral cat who lived on the vacant farmland next door. Much to my delight, she returned the friendship by jumping through my window one night and birthing four kittens on my bed. This picture was taken in 1973.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lindi-Ann Hewitt-Coleman lives on a very small farm on the edge of a very large forest in Wilderness, South Africa. Besides being a mother and writer, she raises Angora goats and spins wool. She has published two collections of poetry blue sky and other poems (2011) and holy ground (2014).