My Dog the Artist
Rolly Kent

Sometimes I wish my dog had been an artist
so I’d have a keepsake besides the lock
of hair I snipped but then misplaced. Perhaps
I will still find it. Perhaps I would have
also lost the canvases inspired by
Breughel or Chagall or Basquiat—
more likely Jackson Pollock, for Phineas
wasn’t into narrative; he didn’t
want to be in any story. Perhaps
he might have composed a touching piano
sonata for days when I miss him— sure,
it would have been for Dixie the beagle
but I’d be okay with that. Or some
doggerel, payback for sleeping bored
under the desk and all the times, lost
in thoughts, I forgot him and an hour
later had to go back to the office
to let him out. How grumpy he looked sitting
on his side of the glass door as if to say
asshole. That’s what I’d have said to me;
Phineas preferred defiance— like the time
I stopped for gas and left the key
inside the car and he stepped on the lock-out
button and pretended not to hear me
banging on the windows. Or the day we
moved, he went up our street to the next
street and downhill into the cool, little
dell to visit Herman the cocker
spaniel, biting me, after a two
hour search, just hard enough to show me
as I carried him to the car that he
alone would be the judge of his gladness.
To that he was loyal, never backing down,
not to the Rottweiler that jumped the fence
or the pit bull that tore up his ribs.
Even in his final seizure he refused to die
until I made it home. Of course, as these things
with love go, he didn’t leave me his oeuvre.
True to form he forced me to remember.
Rolly Kent returned to poetry after an absence of twenty years. Previous work appeared in American Poetry Review, The Atlantic, American Scholar, The Nation, Poetry, and numerous other places. His books of poetry are The Wreck in Post Office Canyon (Maguey Press) and Spirit, Hurry (Confluence Press). His new book, as yet unpublished, is Phone Ringing in a Dark House.


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