Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Duffy's Last Day

He nestled his nose in the 

Crook of my arm, breathing

Out one hot breath after the 

Other, trusting me as he

Always had, his whole life

Long. Then the vet lifted

Him onto the table.  I stood,

Petting him as his heart slowed

While the vet listened.  She

Looked up, nodding.  I looked

Down, not able to look up as

I left.  On hikes when he was 

Out of sight I used to call

“Duffy, I can’t see you.”

He always appeared.  I

Wanted to do that again.

Later on at home, I meant 

to call Jessica, but said “Duffy”

Instead. I corrected myself

But Jessica watched the

Hall a long time, waiting.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Prey II

If on the other hand

He walked with Jessica

Whose teeth and jaws 

Are wolf-like enough

To make the most perverted

Decide not to express his

Nature while she growled,

No shadow would

Crowd this pairing He

Wouldn’t mind her pulling,

And even if he stumbled

She would wait with strong

Shoulders braced while

He used them to stand,

And if some off-leash

Dog were to approach,

Her snarling ferocity

Would abash it,

And one twice its size.

Wherever his progeny

She would always be there.

Prey I

The old man’s attempts

To disguise his hobble

Are of no avail.  He

Eyes with weak eyes

Each shadow and tries

To make his stick

Pound the pavement

With more force than

He any longer has.

A keening sound hounds

Him from time to time.

Is someone out there 

Or is it an aberrant noise

From his hearing aid?

He shines a light

Beyond, fearful he’ll

Trip on a raised piece

Of concrete.  Would

He be able to get back up,

Or would the shadows

Get him before he did? 


Not all at once perhaps

But by fits and starts

Pervading the roadsides,

The dry shrubs and small

Trees, the air is full of it.

Breathing they say

Will kill the old

If they do it too much.

I don’t know how

Much that is,

Nor how to take

It.  Nothing

Is ever

That simple.

I look at all the leaves

Beneath the trees

Fearful they’ll catch.

Behind me my old dog

Coughs.  He has been

Breathing a long 

Long time.

Hot wind

He sucked in the air

Heavy with dread.

Looking out he saw

The flames and a 

Moment more 

The “inland forest”

Burning.  He 

Measured its

Bearing.  With the 

Wind behind, pushing

He needed no urging

And raced through the

Night with the fire

Snarling behnd.

Was this the final

Warning, or

A mere beast one

Sometimes sees

In the smoke

Before an angry

Wind leads it away.


The long-handled hoe

For the weed, the grass

Chopping in late afternoon.

In the morning the shoulder,

The hand, and the head

Looking down each

Passing season.

“Look up,” I’ve heard,

“Thy redemption draweth

Nigh.”  My eyes water

When I try.  I’ve 

Taken my rake 

To the weeds 

And seen them

Into a barrel

Which I push

And shove out

Front and do look

This way and that

For the trash truck

I hear drawing nigh.

The Last Dive

Clumsily struggling to water’s

Edge with his stick helping,

He looked out at the rock

Promontories and imagined

The perch and opaleye.

Nearly falling he snatched

A handful of sand, standing,

Letting it fall through his 

Fingers, he remembered

Susan at the tiller while

He shortened sail

On the way to

Long Point in a 

Stormy sea.

He had dropped over

The side and speared 

Some fish they had no

Appetite  to eat, 

Swinging as they 

Were at anchor

In that angry sea.