Archives for posts with tag: pets

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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.

cat by warhol 1976
Missing Gizmo
by Shelly Blankman

You disappeared into the darkness two years ago.
I don’t know why. People say you were only a cat
and that’s what cats do. But you weren’t just a cat.

Cats don’t shred calendars or stash eyeglasses under
a bed. The don’t steal pizza or chow mein from the plate
of their humans or drink from their straws, and they don’t hitch

rides on the hips of dogs six times their size. You’d greet me
each morning by leaping on my shoulder, slept by my side
whenever I was down, drew blood with your nips whenever

we played and then looked at me innocently like a child as
if to say, “What did I do?” when you knew. I’d just laugh, and
you knew I’d do that, too. You’d lick my tears dry and when

I was sick, you’d curl your body around my neck like a scarf,
and stay with me until I’d fall asleep to the lullaby of your purrs.
But you were sick. Almost from the time you rescued me.

Maybe at some point, you’d had enough of vets’ visits; I’ll
never know. We hired two search dogs to find you, posted
ads, knocked on doors, cruised neighborhoods. Nothing.

Still, I wait. Every time I leave the house. Each corner I turn,
each yard I pass, I look for you. Each bush that rustles I hope
it’s you — exhausted, starved, desperate to find your way home.

After two years, I am still waiting…

IMAGE: Cat by Andy Warhol (1976).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I saw the prompt for this submission, Jon’s and my cat, Gizmo, immediately came to mind. Of all the rescues we’ve ever had, Gizmo stands out as the worst in the best possible way. He was the Katzenjammer Kid of the Animal Kingdom, and our house hasn’t been the same since he ran off over two years ago. He probably didn’t last much longer after he escaped. He’d always been sick and no amount of excellent medical care seemed to make a difference for very long. I know he’s never coming back. Still, I wait.

PHOTO: The author and her beloved cat, Gizmo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband of 40 years, three rescue cats, and a foster dog. They have two sons, Richard and Joshua, who are currently quarantined in New York and Texas, respectively. Shelly’s educational and career paths have followed public relations and journalism, but her first love has always been poetry. Her work has been published in such publications as New Verse News, Halfway Down The Stairs, and The Ekphrastic Review. Richard and Joshua recently published her first book of poetry, Pumpkinhead.

the-shepherdess-1873
Creature Comforts
by Shelly Blankman

Dedicated to Dr. Barbara Feinstein and the staff of the Cat and Dog Hospital of Columbia, Maryland, and to all other animal caregivers who continue to work under difficult conditions to ensure that our pets stay healthy and safe.

Our calico cat curls in my lap, purrs softly
in sync with the engine of our car, now the
waiting room of the veterinarian’s office.

The glaring sun nearly blocks our windshield view
of masked vets and techs, their clothing wet with sweat,
rushing from car to car, lugging cages of sick cats,
cradling huge dogs, too sick to walk into the office,
now a barricade from a world too fragile for humanity.

Pan stirred, her hurt leg stiff. I kissed her soft fur,
whispered she would be fine, hoping she would be fine,
praying that in this pandemic world, worried owners
would not be waiting in their cars for empty cages, empty arms.
,
Doctors were hard to visit now. Receptionists were working
from home. Patients were seen by computer.
But veterinarians? They were there, the staff stripped of amenities,
layered with restrictions, always at the ready. No breaks, no backup.
They were there to help our Pan, our latest rescue,
in far worse pain than we’d realized, to diagnose her,
to be there for her and for so many other animals
in need of a healing, human touch.

These are the unsung heroes of the pandemic,
offering comfort to creatures who could not speak
the language of pain.

IMAGE: The Shepherdess by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1873).

blankman- prime mover Dr. Barbara Feinstein

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process differs from poem to poem, but is usually from personal experience. Animals are very close to my heart, and so when Pan was injured, it broke my heart. As often happens, the poem just evolved from my heart. The process from there was just a matter of mechanics.

PHOTO: Veterinarian Dr. Barbara Feinstein, Cat and Dog Hospital, of Columbia, Maryland.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Blankman and her husband live in Columbia, Maryland, and have two sons, Richard, who lives in New York, and Joshua, who lives in Texas. She is also an at-home mom of three rescue cats—Stripe, Sheldon, and Pan (found during the pandemic), and a foster dog, Mia. Shelly followed a career path of journalism, public relations, and copy editing. Now she has returned to her first love, poetry. Richard and Joshua surprised her with a book of her poetry, Pumpkinhead, available on Amazon.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Pan is doing fine now! She has been  my greatest source of  comfort following a series of deaths during the pandemic. I think animals are incredible and so are the people who go beyond the call of duty to care for them.

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Vet’s office
by Mari Ness

They are still cheerful, on the phone.
Clients can’t come in, but we
can bring our pets
to the door. I arrange a date. They
come out into the heat, the burning sun
take my little cat, promise
to call. I take
a slow route home.
By the time I’m there, the vet
has already called. It’s time.
For this, I am allowed inside.
Whenever I am ready
to say my last words
through a mask.
This is when
I should give you a hug,
the vet says. But. She holds
the furry body. We all
hope the virus doesn’t spread through tears.

Photo by Gerd Altmann, used by permission. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mari Ness lives in central Florida. Her fiction has appeared in multiple publications, including Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Uncanny, Nightmare, Diabolical Plots, Apex and Fantasy. She tweets at @mari_ness, and occasionally remembers to update her blog at marikness.wordpress.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.

CARMIGNANI1
J’adore My Door
by Karyl Carmignani

Solid and fearless, with varnish peeling like sunburnt skin.
Every push and pull blurts a micro-shriek across the threshold,
except when Santa Anas howl,
sucking moisture from every living thing, making us a bit mad,
and relaxing hinges, an intruder’s delight.
But lock tumblers jostle like cubes in a glass, and vow to keep us safe.

Screen door protects her stoic mate from sun and strangers.
Creates a veiled reality,
perfect for cats who pass the time
counting leaves crossing the porch,
or growl low and feral at passing ‘possums or toms looking for love,
as night falls hard on my newly quiet street.

There is a jangled ache outside in the absence of people.
This age of uncertainty, financial ruin, chills and fever
has tucked us in tight behind doors,
sturdy, hollow, painted, flimsy, raw, weeping.
We share this indoor life.
Separate and together.
It is a privilege
and a luxury to have a solid door to keep death at bay
and the cats inside, close.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Forgive the shaggy format of this piece. The door prompt has been on my To Write List for a couple weeks, and it didn’t bubble to the surface until the kitties were watching the leaves scuttle across the porch before a storm. I’m eternally grateful for their furry company during this trying time.

CARMIGNANI
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karyl Carmignani is a science writer for San Diego Zoo Global who also dabbles in creative writing. You can read her nonfiction animal-centric articles here. One of her all-time favorites is about a fascinating and misunderstood bird, the ostrich. Read it and see them spinning on video here. She loves morning coffee (with a splash of milk), rainy afternoons (few and far between), a good joke, great books, her husband, her two cats Tina and Piper, and random, unending beauty in the world. While not a fan of this “house arrest,” she is confident that this, too, shall pass and we can get back to hugging friends, eating out, biking, hiking through parks, traveling near or far, and rejoicing in our fleeting existence with full and shining hearts.

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.