Dog Elegy

For Maybe

Stupid world, made breakable, written code,
secret dissolve. Make the dog's skull plaster,
say, make the plaster full of life, bobble-headed,
and licks, can't-make-it outdoors-in-time, piss-on-the-carpet,
lolling, pushing a ball with its black nose. Stupid world,
drawn up of harder things, that move faster,
that we react too late, knock the light out
of a thing. Here is one. Here it was, the parts,
nose still nose, the paw, five pads, calloused,
distinct, lip wet, clipped from an octopus, useless
teeth, tongue cut from a chicken breast. Could we use the bones
that weren't broken in some other dog—we're all about
conservation, recycle, reuse. Not this time. This time,
everything gets just one, and we'll let it think that it is
everything, then we'll make a loud noise, perhaps,
one loud bang, take the air out of the balloon
like light, smell, desire, every blade of grass
that nose has touched, trying to push through it
to something more permanent. Make it like that,
surprise them with the weight, the dumb weight
of it in the arms of the one who didn't expect it
so fast, didn't expect the feeling of fur in his arms,
head pouring over the arm, more comfortable
with the ground than with the living thing with a heart
like a smashed light bulb and eyes that still work.

Joel Long's book Winged Insects won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. His book Knowing Time by Light was published by Blaine Creek Press in 2010. His chapbooks, Chopin's Preludes and Saffron Beneath Every Frost were published from Elik Press. His poems have appeared in Interim, Gulf Coast, Rhino, Bitter Oleander, Crab Orchard Review, Bellingham Review, Sou'wester, Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, Poems and Plays, Evansville Review, New Orleans Review, Tulane Review, and Seattle Review and anthologized in American Poetry: the Next Generation, Essential Love, Fresh Water, and I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights. He has poems forthcoming in Quarterly West and The Pinch. He received the Mayor's Artist Award for Literary Arts at the Utah Arts Festival and the Writers Advocate Award from Writers at Work.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761