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Paws in Your Pocket by Taylor Graham

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.




         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.



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
      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.



Kibble, collar, stick.
Deep brown eye to eye,
the earth blinks
and sticks up bones.
So long buried, smelling
old and good. Bodies
whose scent has seeped
into soil, slipped away
like breathing. I carry
them home, lay them
under the nose of master
who throws them out
in the yard, where forever
I chew their language
against my gums, taste
the marrow of time.



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