Dog Days 2014
The Very Dogs
I was at once emptying the Cistern of Nature, and making Water at the Wall. At the same Time, there came a Dog, who did so too, before me. Thought I; “What mean, and vile Things are the Children of Men, in this mortal State! How much do our natural Necessities abase us, and place us in some regard, on the same Level with the very Dogs!” —from the Diary of Cotton Mather
Don’t flatter yourself, man,
so far from dogness, you
don’t have a clue—can’t even feel
the please of an easy piss
at the wall. I love the relief, lifting
my leg to bless what I wet,
but you—what a waste of a dick!
Had I the luck of a hand to hold it,
that would be a fine feeling too,
but not you, face full of frownshame
staring down on your flop
of flesh as you glare and sneer
at me in my godgiven fur.
Count your blessings you didn’t
spy me fuck while you fucked,
old scowl and skincrawl. You’d
surely go shit for nuts at that,
whinesnarling mean vile abase
though you’ll never be so graced,
so lifted above your buttoned
snivelmiserable to a place
of pure dog pleasure, good god!
Love Cycling through Twilight
Now, in the sullen months, when the days are selfish with their glow,
when we doggedly pedal the dark paths in the dark evening
to the dingy train that will take us home,
the light on your bike shimmers like a pole star in the mirror on mine—
the lucent thread of relationship that tethers us together.
We are a constellation of two, canis minor, the treads on our tires
inscribing a mythology across Chicago’s pavements
as we move in tandem through our sublunary sky,
your light eternally tied to mine in some antiquated idea of heaven.
As Smoke Enters My Mustache
There’s a lot of noise out in the universe. We miss most of it in our little spaces.
For example, barking dogs. Right now, you can’t hear the one driving me nuts.
And really, what is the dog star?
That must be loud.
I bet it keeps whole neighborhoods awake.
Take my temperature.
I feel a little better already.
Lying in Wait
They want us to look up
to them, always be available
to smooth the crooked creases
between their brows, tell them
every night — cool sheets pulled
down — who is lord, who king
of all surveyed. Their voices, raised
against our pursed lips, put us
in our places, single sonic booms
enough to collapse thinning walls
we build to shield our hearts’ too
-quick beatings from pricked up ears.
They count on strength in numbers,
spit-blackened boots and push-button
armored personnel. We bide time’s
hand sure on our own, content
to wait till the palace dogs at last
have stretched and yawned.
At One with Sam, My Irish Setter
I promised not to get caught up
with cockle burrs, dried milkweed, the beauty
of frosted prairie grass when the hunters let me
tag along. I tend to drift off. They hate this but I am sure
my Setter understands me and how I love
autumn in the fall. I like when my bird dog sets,
then breaks his point, leaps off cliffs to crash through
thickets of chokecherry. Even the sun stopped
to watch the shimmer in Sam’s red fur when he paused
to scold my boots—they were too loud upon the trail
of ring-necked pheasants tucked in cat-tail tuftettes.
I made up words and thought ahead
to dinner at Wong’s, where they’d cook our birds,
add wild rice, walnut dressing. But first I was to earn
my keep, carrying a dead pheasant back.
My hand around its throat, I felt life return.
Its blood thickened and began to pulse. Wings flapping,
its rusty cry swelled in my grip. Wring his neck, the hunters
coached, and so I swung it like a rope, feeling the moment
when he died in my grip. My Setter didn’t watch.
At the Villa
I imagine you
gasping at your
own feet. Dog,
in your hands
and I imagine
no one else
has said what
you say you can’t.
You wake in my bed,
wet with dreams
and night, thin
legs heavy with
bones. You dreamed you
away. Woke here.
Where are you?
You were going away.
my hands are horses
My speaking hands
say your name
again and again.