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What the Dog Drags In

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Never normal things like leashes or dog biscuits,
not sticks or sodden tennis balls. Nothing that’s made for dog,
nothing she’s been given or allowed.
She prefers the dangerous, the hidden, things that must
be sniffed from downwind on a still summer day,
that must be uncovered with nose and claws,
carried home with great care and laid as gifts
upon doorsteps, shoes, feet, in beds and in palms.
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In the driveway, a vole or a mole, star-nose,
silver furred like moonlight, paddle paws
splayed upright as if to ward off death
or unwanted lovers. On the porch, an
alabaster bone, long as my shin,
mouth-dented, hollowed out,
the marrow torn by teeth and time.
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Once, on the edge of the blanket, a glimmering
beetle the size of my thumb, black-blue in the
afternoon light. I didn’t know it was hers until she
lifted it between her teeth, settled it like a
dirty jewel upon her tongue.
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Sometimes, eggs from the chickens.
Sometimes, stones from the creek.
This one, brown and sleek.
That one, mossed and rivered as seal fur.
Do they feel the same between her jaws,
I wonder, are they both as precious, as heavy?
How does she choose?
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One night, the black-as-oil shit of coyotes.
I see their paw prints on the trails, echoing
the deer hooves in mud, hear their calls
when dark simmers in. She wouldn’t drop it,
wouldn’t hear of it. She’d sunk her teeth in,
and meant to keep it, the stink and gross of it.
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Lately, a two AM dream of spiders and birds.
One has eight white legs, black eyes.
The other, a wife.
I try not to touch either, but keep
going back, repulsed, desiring,
trying to discern their differences in the dark.
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This morning, she brings back nothing
but her tongue, lolling, and her brown eyes.
The way she lifts herself up at the sight of me,
as though I am the best thing she’s seen all day,
and there will never be another moment as good
as this, me bending down to tousle her ears.
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I don’t know where she finds such things,
how she carries them in her without fear.
The dark woods behind the house are full
of creatures I’ve never heard of, scurried shimmers
beneath my feet, at my vision’s edge.
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On our walks, she trots ahead through the
bracken and brambles, making the way.
She gives me courage.
I crouch down. I turn over a leaf, a log, a rock.
She waits, wagging, to see what I will find.
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About This Poem: I had the idea for the title yesterday, while I was out walking with the dog. She’s been carrying this (was live, now dead) mouse around in her mouth with her for days. She also, apparently, carries eggs, voles, bones and just about everything else. As I sat down to write it, I got to thinking about how her way of dragging things in is similar to how writers drag their ideas in. Some of what we come back with is awesome, some of it is confusing and some of it is just plain shit. -grin-

About Poem-A-Day: For the month of April (National Poetry Month), I’ve signed on to write a poem-a-day (eeks!). To make it slightly easier on myself, my rules are that I have to write each poem in fifteen minutes or less, and that I have to post it here on the blog as soon as I’m done. No edits. Just rough. Raw. Right out of the gate. (Of course, if you’re playing along, I hope you’ll post a link to your poem in the comments here — mainly because I’m selfish and I want to read them!)

See all my Poem-A-Day poems here.

You can also read some amazing poems-a-day over at Sage Cohen’s blog.

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