Tag Archives: dogs

The Bright Side

“When he’s dead,”
she says,
“I’ll finally get that dishwasher.”
“And when she’s dead,”
he says,
“I’ll knock a pass-thru to the kitchen.”

Either could have what they want now
but these are little improvements
they can look forward to
as if one day
the end of the world
could have a bright side
like that trip to Europe
after the dog dies. mjh

11/14/2004


There could be an upside to death, at least, for the survivors.

Listen to The Bright Side

My Virtual Chapbook (table of contents)

Update 2012: She got her dishwasher and he got a counter far better than a pass-through and nobody had to die, yet. http://www.edgewiseblog.com/mjh/uncategorized/kitchen-remodeling-for-dummies/

The Heaven of Animals

The meadow is his home now.
Up high in the mountains,
he lies in the shade
in a circle of trees
among the wild iris.

He yawns and stretches,
flips over
and rolls and rolls,
groaning in pleasure
in the tall sweet grass.

At any moment
he will sit up, alert,
ears sharp,
sniffing the air,
eyes intent on something
we can’t see
off under the trees.

His world is perfect now,
though I know he misses
the pats, the belly rubs,
the love in our voices:
lie down.
stay now.
good boy. mjh

7/7/2004


I wrote this five years before Lucky Dog died, remembering a beautiful spot the three of us discovered. And, imagining the inevitable, I sobbed. This supports my hope that “any horror could be faced / and become a poem.”

I borrowed the title from a poem by James Dickey. If you’re looking for that one, here’s a link. And, here’s a poem I wrote soon after Dickey’s death in 1997.


Listen to The Heaven of Animals

My Virtual Chapbook (table of contents)

Meeting myself again

I ran into myself in the park again this morning. Last time, Future Mark got out of a car and shuffled over to a bench. There he sat, smoking a cigar, in contemplation. It was a fatter cigar than I currently like, but tastes change over the years. I intuited that this was a ritual for him/me to get away from some less-than-ideal living situation. Perhaps, Future Mark lives in a small apartment or shares space with a friend. More likely, he lives in a warehouse for the not-yet-dead. In the park, with a good smoke, he reclaims our independence, however briefly.

Back then, I avoided contact with Future Mark out of fear of some time paradox. Since then, apparently, I will learn that’s not a problem, because this morning Future Mark approached me, or, more correctly, Luke. Mark held out his hand for Luke to sniff. Luke looked back and forth between us and managed to reconcile the situation; dogs live in the now. Mark looked me in the eye as if delivering a message just for me: "Our dog lived to be 16." (Good news that has a bitter end.) "I can’t imagine ever replacing him." I tried to comfort him what little I could: "We felt that way about Lucky. Then, when the time was right, Luke came along." Cold comfort, to replace grief with delayed grief, but we have only one other choice: love nothing. Besides, the warehouse probably forbids pets.

A few minutes later, I saw Future Mark bend over stiffly to brush some leaves off a memorial plaque beneath a tree. Then, he passed us, staring straight ahead, his face at once rigid and fluid with grief. I knew his pain. I didn’t dare look at the name on that plaque.

the cure

my old friend
is worried about me
coughing roughly
deep in the night
he stands by the bed
searching my face
for a cue
a clue to my
senseless barking
barking
he paces the floor
for hours
he sniffs my hand
ingesting my malady
to concoct the cure
which he administers
in slow soft licks;
“be well, old friend
the pack is with you.”
and I am well again. mjh

3/17/2005


Listen to the cure

My Virtual Chapbook (table of contents)

Billy

Happy Birthday, Billy Collins! Time to re-read On Turning Ten, Forgetfulness or The Country (bottom of that page). Collins is one of my favorite poets — perhaps he and Frost share #2 and there is no #1 for me (though I could hardly imagine poets more different than Frost and Collins).

Time to trot out my tribute to Collins (for Merri):

Billy

It doesn’t seem the least bit odd
that all the members of the orchestra
are dogs.
Some in tuxedos,
some in black gowns,
sitting, waiting — good dogs! –
for the conductor
to raise a long meaty bone.
Some clear their throats,
some drool,
none look away for a moment.

It doesn’t seem the least bit odd
that everyone in the audience
is in a tutu.
Men and women dressed for the
ballet, though this is a concert,
each holding a pen and pad
planning to pounce
to snatch some new idea.
As if Beethoven for Dogs
weren’t enough.

It doesn’t seem the least bit odd
in the end
when the conductor puts down his baton,
most of the meat shaken off
to the delight of the First Chair.
He turns and bows
and then I recognize him:
the poet laureate,
the old dog himself. mjh

8/13/02

PS: Frost’s birthday is 3/26/1874.

Finally

The day finally comes
when you have to lift your dog
down from the truck.
It doesn’t matter that for years
he has cleared that distance
in a bound.
Or that he hates for you
to pick him up.
He stands at the tailgate
eying the distance;
does he think his leg
may give in again?
He waits a long time
as if just surveying the scene —
not asking for help,
just enduring it.
With a dignity
That makes you cry. mjh

7/17/06

(Written 3 years before Lucky Dog died.)