Christina Lovin’s Echo

Echo_front_cover--book by Christina LovinChristina Lovin’s book Echo (Bottom Dog Press, 2014) has poems about the satellites Echo 1 and Echo 2, Sputnik 2 (which took a dog into space), hot summer nights, cornfields, and Patsy Cline.

It’s got gorgeous sonnet crowns about movie stars, American culture, and the dark reality of the nuclear age. And many echoes in sound, theme, image. 

For the dog days of summer, here are three Echo poems with dogs in them.

Our thanks to Christina Lovin, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and Bottom Dog Press.



Dog Star

Sputnik II, November 4, 1957

The more time passes, the more I’m sorry…. We shouldn’t have done it….
–Oleg Gazenko, Russian Space Scientist in 2002

Little stray, small vagabond safe on the streets
of Moscow, how did they lure you from doggy ways:
nosing through trash, days of begging in the square,
nights curled up tight in corners, under porches,
with those bright eyes? You came to love them,

your captors: how a dog trusts with her eyes
and her tail and her huge, huge heart: Laika
Little Barker, Little Curly—Krudyavka, Limonchik
Little Lemon, Zhuchka—Little Bug: diminutives
for betrayal, for cruelty, for small, smaller,
and yet smaller spaces, until you learned
not even to defecate or urinate, and ate
what they fed you—disgusting gel—all that
you were given. Breathed only what they allowed,
painting in panic, your pulse a race no one would win.

To the end sure that the one with the kind voice
and tender hands would come to rescue you
from that screaming capsule, the intense airless heat,
from your anguished hell in the heavens. Would come
and release the chafing harness catches, lift you
from the shell, remove the electrodes that stung
and itched, gently rub your singed ears, seared
belly. Call you again good dog, khoroshaya sobaka.

But no intention of rescue—no way of return
from your unfortunate orbit. Only lies as all men
provide in such situations: claiming you died
peacefully, while we children of earth witnessed you
trail across the awful darkness in your brilliant death.


My brothers would go there to shoot the rats
that ravaged the bodies of dead strays
laid out in trenches like those I’d seen before
in pictures of Auschwitz—deep ruts spanning
the property’s width behind the small cinder
block building that house the living,

waiting animals. Once, a small black bear
paced in circles in one of the cages.
My father took me there again to choose
a kitten, my own dead beneath the wheels
of his car. And once, my bicycle crunched
up the gravel drive past the kennels,
to the back of the building, where two men
in dark uniforms waited beside a truck,
a dog-sized metal box resting in the bed.
Rubber tubing ran from the closed box
to the exhaust. The engine whined softly
as the driver leaned against the fender,
smoking a Camel. Howls of laughter from
both men—a joke about something. Crushing

his smoke with his boot heel, one turned and barked
“Go home. This ain’t no place for a girl.” Later,
when the pound had been left to the lost
and abandoned, I returned to search
the twilight ditches for that certain dog—
impossible in the piles upon piles
of furred bodies—those that were still,
and those others darting darkly among them.

Many Ways of Leaving

There are many ways
of leaving. Part by part:

head first, like the hound
circling too far afield
to hear the call
and cry of downing dusk,
of chase’s end,
the ring of eye and brush
of feathered tail entreating
until the trail is lost and
so is home and hearth;

of blindly, as the heart
when surgeons grope in cavities
for tendril vein and shard
and clot, but with feeling
sheathed against the stain
and blood-borne ill,
the wound is closed
around the weeping,
unseen fatal cut;

or yet, the body leads—
emerging like the moth
from stifling chrysalis,
bent and bruised
but poised
for certain flight
toward some brilliant death;

or leaving simply
for the sake of leaving:
the maverick craving
wild grass more than hay
or grain; the pigeon, homing
back once more,
passes on, then up
into the loss of open sky—
not from, but to

like me to me,
from you.

Christina Lovin’s Website

Christina Lovin at EIL

Christina Lovin at Bottom Dog Press

Christina Lovin in The Dog Star at EIL

Dog Art by EJ Miley, Jr.

Dog Days 2014

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