A Love Poem for Grendel

I love you for all the same reasons that you love living
your paws pitter pattering on the edge of the cliff
when I take you hiking, and then running back
to circle around my unsteadier feet
imploring me to look, come see

your mad rush for breakfast in the morning
and dinner at night even if it’s the same
dry kibble, your pleasure when it isn’t
your leaping and bounding through the snow banks
when I am cold and just want to go back in

and your hatred of the sad movies I sometimes watch
which make me whimper, the way you gaze into my drippy eyes
and tug at my sleeve until I turn it off and take you outside

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Born of Dreams

A study has emerged in the popular news network
which means it’s probably completely unfounded
that dogs dream of their owners while cats dream of hunting

I apologize to my dog as I pluck him from the end of the bed
where he lays sleeping so that I can hold him
no matter, he flops back down onto my neck
as if he is deboned-not even a sigh escapes

I wonder what must it be like to give himself over
from me, who is holding him annoyingly close
to the other owner, who looks like me, but is born of dreams
when I pick him up, he must switch between us

I know he still prefers me because he comes
out of such a dead slumber as this
to dutifully follow me from the bathroom to the kitchen
my boyfriend said once, he will always be a puppy
because he is small, enthusiastic, clumsy
but I know that he is not done switching over

one day, with arthritic legs, he might watch me from the bed
wistfully as I walk from the bathroom into the kitchen
half wishing he had the energy to follow but half still asleep
and some day further, he will give himself over completely
I just hope his dream owner loves him as thoroughly
and treats him well as I will still want to
when she takes him into her custody

A Careful Measurement

It’s all I can do since you stopped writing to me
to recreate your image in a story
in which you are as tall as you ever were
and as sleek with the same bushy hair
but I’ve added some embarrassing skin afflictions

you are trotting across a country road in the rain
and to my credit, I don’t let any cars hit you
there is nothing but thunder and lightning
striking through the gravy of a sky
with the consistency of porridge
I have surrounded you with this setting
as a suffocating, lonely blanket
the mud staining the bottom of your skirts
and all the cows and horses in hiding
somewhere warmer than you will be able to find
until several chapters later
the scene is lumpy gray with mud and clouds
both splashing and infuriated
then, as you are running, your heel breaks

that is exactly how much I hate you today

Mother, if you’re reading this (knowing full well that you shouldn’t)

I have been invited as a speaker
on the subject of poetry
by a local high school
and Boston University

So I guess you were wrong
when you said higher education
wouldn’t be a fit for me
and that I was doing well enough
as a cashier at Macy’s

and maybe you shouldn’t have thrown out
that poetry book I made for you
dedicated, decorated and bound
while I was in high school

citing the reasons
that it was a study
on your bad parenting
and that you found it depressing

because someday
it could be worth something

I won’t come bearing flowers

You can call me a drug addict

a prostitute, a lunatic

mentally ill, unstable,

suffering from hysterics

spoiled, self indulgent

worthless, bad from the start

made with bad blood

 

Maybe I was

as a baby in Massachusetts

but now, I’m grown up

and I am leaving it

whatever you say,

I won’t be here to hear it

 

and someday,

you will change your mind

when you are old and dying

reflecting on your life

and you’ll invite me

to come to your bedside

and you’ll choose to forget

that you were never

at mine.