Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dog Running & Rich

Blogging and other literary activities have been severely interrupted by caring for my failing canine companion Keegan and his death last Sunday, October 28. The only words that have come to me in the last few weeks are those of praise for a phenomenal person in a furry suit. (Keegan's the guy on the left.)
Here are two from my book Earth Lessons:


The dog runs nose to ground
as we run with our eyes wide open.
The dog uses tongue for hands
and prefers his nose to his eyes.
No human runs with closed lids
and a tongue hanging out
unless it's raining lemonade.

How does the world seem
smelled and tasted like a stew
instead of seen and codified?
The dog runs on pliant earth
with open paws,
catching the coin of soil,
spending as he goes.
As I want to run
through life.


Scattering across the grass, May raindrops
pelt me as the puppy Keegan retrieves
downed apples from under the tree.
The yellow globes are striped: each one
corrected by a red pencil.
Across the lawn, fallen fruit,
gold, or plum-dark and rotting --
rich variety of a dreamt creation.

Eve might have mused in such a garden,
amid fruit drowning in its own juice.
Because he had not smiled today,
she might have tossed a round thing --
not yet named Apple. Rain rustled the grass
and the animal played. What worm could lurk
in one small bite?

Our apples juice the eye with hue,
bright orbs on black soil, contents
of a farmer's basket spilling waves of scent.
Keegan munches the rottenest
apples with his new incisors,
savoring an occasional spicy ant,
knowing Apple for the first time.

Rich in apples, we stretch out
and let wind play our hair like harpstrings.
Happy as the players in the cautionary tale,
we hardly feel the slither of knowledge,
wet and green wounds of mortality,
red-lining us from paradise.


  1. So sorry to hear about this. Good thoughts to you!

  2. Thanks for your good thoughts! they help enormously. Also writing poems about my dog and all the amazing adventures we had together. I know it's one of those topics that don't make for good poems usually, but I can try! Someone sent me Mark Doty's sonnet Golden Retrievings, so I now have a high mark to aim for. The one I'm working on currently is entitled "My Brother Is A Nudist" but it's really about Keegan.

  3. sorry to hear about that - it's sad to lose a good dog and he looks like a loveable fellow. I know another person who just lost her dog, and I'd put up a dog poem on my blog yesterday.
    I recently bought an anthology of dog poems called "Dog Music" that I found in a used book shop, and it's very good, although I agree it can be hard to write a a good dog poem (cats are probably harder). all the best.

  4. Thanks for your sympathy. Yes, a very loveable little guy. I'll have to go look for your dog poem.

    Dog Music -- I haven't heard of that one. I was planning to get some of the anthologies of poetry about dogs and cats. I marvel at the skill of writing these poems well. I've written several I'm not showing anyone, but "My Brother Is A Nudist" will appear soon on this blog. My brother finds it hilarious that a poem about Keegan has this title, and he asked me again who told me he was a nudist. Now I'm not only worried about his hobbies, but also his memory. But then maybe it's better not to remember much if you're going to mingle with naked strangers. (I tried it once.)

  5. My sympathies.

    ... on the nudie thing, as a kid I remember being amazed that people could be wildly upset about naked humans then walk their dogs with huge and obvious genitalia, unfazed by their peeing in public.

  6. Have you ever read poems by Robinson Jeffers about the passing of his dog? For instance:

    Dogs are hearts.

  7. Glenn -- thanks for your sympathies. I love the idea of dogs delighting in their nudism.

    Kate -- I appreciate your posting this link. The poem made me cry, in a good way, and laugh at this line:

    A little dog would get tired, living so long.

    I think I feel a little tired living today, but I spent some time sitting in the field where Keegan's grace is decorated by a ridiculous amount of flowers -- I'm sure he's trying to eat them or something -- and I felt much better being out there with our other dog, imagining that the two of them might be nosing nude around their field in the sunshine. Jeffers is a poet I haven't really looked into, but now I will, so thank you double.