Monday, November 16, 2009

Dogs and Poetry

Last week my wife Paula Van Lare and I had the pleasure and the privilege of volunteering for a couple of days at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

More specifically, we worked at Dogtown, as featured on the National Geographic program of the same name.

You may wonder what this has to do with my writing.

Fair enough.

While only a small portion of my writing has involved dogs, last week's experience made me want to share a couple of previously published dog poems. I have another tangentially canine poem coming out shortly (more on this soon), and I am trying to publish a couple of others.

For now I hope you enjoy these two.


Because Nubians are still enslaved
I walk my dogs twice a day.

Because a child conceived tonight will inherit addiction
I leave my dogs offerings
of fresh water, with ice cubes.
Because envelopes and marketplaces explode
I hug my dogs and even carry them
where no shrapnel flies.

Because a manatee is sliced
by motorboat blades
and the last wild tiger
has been born,
I keep my dogs' tags and shots
up to date.

Now that any fact can be known
in an instant,
the smallest love is news.

Things touch at a near or far remove:
jays pass raspberry seeds
over fresh fields,
armadillos, burrowed into freight,
widen their range.

Word of my program
will ride the jet stream,
and land like a petal,
or it will bounce, devoutly, off a satellite.


Dog, and I believe that I can call you that
with a high degree of accuracy,
in a purely denotative sense, though,
unsullied by cultural associations,
please listen,
since I seldom ask that much of you
(the couch is yours no less than mine,
the pillows, past and present, more so):
You would, if you a possessed a consciousness
of cause and effect, self and other
and the mortality that swallows them,
be grateful to know nothing
beyond that which you know right now
because, for me,
it’s seven-thirty on a partly cloudy
Tuesday, forty-five degrees,
with a sixty-percent chance of rain
and the certainty
of a commute and a day’s work
in which I’ll be wagged by—appended to—
devices engineered by men
who get out even less than me.
Really, they exist,
though you might have gathered otherwise
from the long and many evenings that we share—
like tonight, when we’ll
resume this small symposium.
Until then, fellow traveler on the planet,
Don’t scratch that spot behind your ear—
It’s already bare.
A new rawhide bone is on your bed
and, as always, cane mio,
the kibble’s in the bowl.