By Alex B. Johnson
Muddy won’t sleep with wind up his ears or
when his eyes stick onto a dragonfly.
And I can’t read books with tugboats & clouds
between me and the sky.
But we agree, this dog & me,
we’ll just sit here waiting to see
what if any wonder
might pass us by.
Living With Your Parents Blues
By Zora Smith
I still live with my parents
And I’m almost 23
One day I stopped and asked myself,
“What the heck is wrong with me?”
My parents want me to succeed,
I want to succeed too,
But a little voice inside my head
says “It’s all for them, not you.”
My credit is a nightmare
‘Cause I bounce checks to and fro
I need to save, but I want to spend
And away my money goes.
My room is full of trinkets, toys,
And other kinds of junk
Add to that my dirty clothes,
And my aura reeks of skunk.
My weight’s above 250
And I have a case of gout;
I want to get more healthy, but
That involves working out.
I work a job in retail—
Pays well, but not my dream;
Stubborn managers and customers
Have me wanting to go scream.
I realized the way I think
Affects my whole world view
And if I wanted to improve,
I’d have to think things through.
Sure, there’s some good in my life—
Friends, family, pet, the mix—
But I feel the bad outweighs the good,
And that’s something I must fix.
So as 2019 comes to an end,
I’ll keep this short and sweet-
Have a wonderful 2020
(And go easy on the meat.)
By Jill Hartmann-Roberts
Our one-eyed pug,
But you’d never know it.
I fell in love with your photograph—
Cuddled next to Reggie in your daddy’s bed.
When I finally met you,
Eleven months later
At San Diego Airport,
It was love at first sight—
And every day since I’ve loved you more.
You lived life as if the world were your kingdom,
And we were your subjects.
Prancing and trotting happily,
Wagging your rare double-curly tail.
You were the smartest dog I ever knew,
Standing on your hind legs,
Giving your daddy high five—
Escaping through the slats of a locked baby gate,
Not once, not twice, but three times.
You loved to ride in cars,
And bark from the backseat,
We never knew—
But I never got tired of hearing it.
You tried to keep up with Reggie,
But he was too fast for you,
And you fell behind.
Your daddy tied your leashes together into one,
And you never gave up trying
to match Reggie’s stride,
As he pulled you along with him.
Waiting by the sliding glass door,
As soon as our cars pulled up in the driveway,
You’d pace back and forth.
Scratching at the glass, barking—
You couldn’t wait to see us again.
You brought me stuffed animals
When I walked in the door—
Squirrels and rabbits,
An alligator three times your size,
Following me until I stopped to pet you.
Sometimes I found strange objects
Hidden in your crate,
Pilfered for your collection of treasures
You’d found on the floor—
Pens, magnets, socks, hair clips.
When you were happy,
You’d lie on your back,
Your paws in the air.
You loved to have your belly rubbed,
You loved to be petted—
When we stopped, you’d paw at us,
You loved baths,
Pampered and pretty,
Your thick, pearl-colored fur,
Soft and sweet-smelling.
You lost most of your teeth,
But you never lost your smile.
Your tongue curled up,
Your smile lit up the entire house.
Most of all,
You loved to be at your daddy’s side,
Wherever he was—
You were your daddy’s little girl,
To the very end.
With medical science against you,
You fought hard every day—
Never wanting to leave us,
Nothing could break you.
March 14, 2018—we almost lost you.
The next day,
You stood up, as weak as you were,
Ate a piece of turkey,
And lived seven more months.
How many surgeries did you survive?
Two to open your airway,
One on your left eye,
Six to remove the mast cell tumors
That could have killed you—
But you survived.
You survived it all.
Nothing could beat you,
You conquered them all.
What I remember most about your life
Is how you lived—
“Every day Lizzie is alive is a good day.”
I said it every morning as soon as I saw you—
Alive and breathing and well.
You were my everything.
I miss you every day.
I will never forget you.
You were not just a great dog, Lizzie—
You were the perfect dog.
By Jill Hartmann-Roberts
Your brown coat on the pillow,
Still full of your scent.
Your hooded brown raincoat laying on the floor.
Your empty dog bed—
The last night
I found you there,
Snuggled in the crocheted blankets.
Your favorite Nyla bone chew toy,
Brown and worn don at the edges—
The blue rubber center still clean and intact.
Stains from your cancer on the sheets,
On the white down comforter,
On the carpet where I slowly set down my feet.
I rub the bottoms back and forth and push down,
Trying to ground my body back into the earth.
Trash bags, plastic bags, tied up,
Filled with soiled paper towels,
The smell beginning to fade after so many weeks.
A purple cushion where you took your last breath.
Your eyes were open—
They went glassy as you left me.
Her stethoscope against your chest—
You weren’t moving.
“He’s gone,” the vet said.
The rabies tag on your black harness,
The blue Star of David and chain choke collars
Hanging on a peg,
Your Georgia Bulldogs canvas leash with the broken latch.
The Polaroid photo of you and me on a park bench,
Near the beach in San Diego
Where we walked to save the animals.
A pink pig, a brown bear, a raccoon—
Your last Christmas presents.
You were too tired to chase them across the room
When I tried to play fetch with you.
The strands of your brindle fur,
Your green Christmas sweater,
The torn up faux leather beanbag,
Your favorite spot on the red couch.
Open bags of kibble you’ll never finish,
Closed cans of dog food I’ll never open,
Prescription pills unused,
Half-filled bottles of liquid medicines,
Empty syringes all over the countertops.
The empty space under the oak table
Where you sat at my feet,
As I wrote about your life.
The empty stroller.
The empty front seat in the car.
The empty food bowl.
The empty house.
The empty space in my heart.
The empty space in my life.
This is the day after the worst day,
The day we said goodbye.
My skin is crawling,
The house is silent.
This morning I called your name, “Reggie.”
But you didn’t answer.
Losing you was harder
Than I could have ever imagined.
You were still so full of life,
But the cancer said otherwise.
I had to let you go;
It was the right thing to do.
My heart has a gaping hole
That only you can fill.
You were my co-pilot,
My best friend,
I am lost without you.
I love you.
I miss you.
My sweetest boy.
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