Paws in Your

Pocket

This pocket-sized book was designed for National Poetry Month and specifically for April 30 ---Poem in Your Pocket Day, 2004.

These poems first appeared in Abraxis, The Acorn, Blue Unicorn, The Cape Rock, Chariton Review, Cranial Tempest, El Dorado Scene, Embers, Enigma, Fairfield Review, Folio, Hidden Oak, Moon Reader, Poet Lore, Poet News, Poetry Depth Quarterly, Poetry Magazine, Poetry Super Highway, Roanoke Review, Tiger's Eye, and The Tomcat.  Some of these poems also appeared in the chapbooks Casualties: search-and-rescue poems, An Hour in the Cougar's Grace, Still Life with Wood Smoke, Harmonics, and Lies of the Visible.

click on selected poems to view

Camouflage Cat

Little Boy Lost with Dog

Cat Massage

What the Dogs Sing

Downtown with Dog

Camouflage Cat

Little Boy Lost with Dog

Cat Massage

What the Dogs Sing

Downtown with Dog

 

Camouflage Cat

Little Boy Lost with Dog

Cat Massage

What the Dogs Sing

Downtown with Dog

 

Camouflage Cat

Little Boy Lost with Dog

Cat Massage

What the Dogs Sing

Downtown with Dog

 

Camouflage Cat

Little Boy Lost with Dog

Cat Massage

What the Dogs Sing

Downtown with Dog

 

Camouflage Cat

Little Boy Lost with Dog

Cat Massage

What the Dogs Sing

Downtown with Dog

back to top

CAMOUFLAGE CAT

 

All night she hunts, black

by the light of her two

green moons. Come dawn,

it's stubblefield silver, bleach

and gossamer of grasses drying.

She stalks the edges, shedding

sunlight. See the weed-heads

parting, a scatter of birds.

By noon she's purring

adventure against my leg,

her tail a triumph of thistledown,

come-alongs and burrs.

Toward evening, she grooms

and preens in my lap, as if

she were domestic, as if she were

mine. But it's all glossed off

by midnight to that deep

eclipsing shine.

 

LITTLE BOY LOST WITH DOG

 

           That dog

would lead a boy astray.

A jaunty one-eyed black-patched dog

could lead a boy away

leaving no foot- or paw-prints;

across the river no child could cross,

through thickets no barefoot child could travel,

up the high hills

where never a three-year-old could toddle;

would lead him out in spring light

to a point overlooking what a child never

could fathom or survive or understand,

but in dreams may climb again

at forty, when the pirate

dog is thirty years dead,

and wake up calling

that old dead dog by name.

 

 

 CAT MASSAGE

 

You try the casual riff of fur:

throat and cheek, stroke along the spine.

She curls her claws and slits her eyes,

her ears clam. Tight

is the word for a cat who doesn't trust

you, loud ironic reasoner

who might decide to pull (however

gently) her twitch of tail.

Her ears will not unclamp.

Her paws outreach,

kneading air. She doesn't

purr, but waits to see

what you think you might learn

about the inscrutable

that lives inside a cat

which only a cat

should know.

 

 

WHAT THE DOGS SING

 

One at a time the dogs down the hill

tune up, the only souls on a scabby knob

where the road gives up its plans

and just drops off into river-crossing,

a rocky ford. Listen. Those dogs

on a callused elbow of land rubbed raw

and slapped with old board fence

are singing up their souls.

Outside a junkyard of Chevies

that years ago gave up on tune-ups,

who knows what goes on behind unpainted

fences? One at a time, this time of evening,

the dogs tune up to tell us, skinny

sparrows in dog-suits, fleas on the edge

of howl. Every day we drive on past

that scabby heel with its clapboard sole,

and still we haven't learned the language

of their song.

 

 

DOWNTOWN WITH DOG

 

We're walking down Main, past the Liars

Bench and the Hangman's Tree and all

the old bronzed 49er history. My dog

goes snuffling, checking out whoever walked

here shedding scurfs of skin and dandruff

for the bit of afternoon breeze to play with,

and a single line of westbound cars

to carry along like pebbles in their tire‑

treads, and the single line bound east

toward City Hall or the old Soda Works

creating opposite streams and eddies of air,

and people walking from shop to shop

swirling up scent as they shift their bags

one arm to the other. Each passerby's

presented in a million tiny packages,

scattered for a dog's nose to put back

together

Mine makes good work of it,

jigsaw‑puzzler in a German Shepherd suit.

He trots along as kids in front

of the historic Bell Tower make room,

and two women murmuring window‑

front to bakery do a fancy side‑step

without breaking conversation. A dog

writes his own town history

without monuments.