Kicking up Leaves and Rolling Around in Dead Things

Your reward for taking your monthly bath
even though you scratched me on the chest
as I foolishly crouched down with you in the tub, naked
is the same as it ever was–we’ll wait until you dry off
then let you off your leash at the local park
which is consistently muddy in the spring
so you can get unspeakably filthy again

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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

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

The Private Place Where You Live With Me Part Time

You are at the sidelines of my poetry
only because you take your place
as the centerpiece on my kitchen table
in the form of a bouquet of roses
we bought for International Women’s Day

the red crowns so dark they are almost morose
and born of thorns leveled out
by the innocence of baby’s breath
when you went off to work, I sat by them
thinking back to my Victorian lessons
both of these clusters representing
if I recall, everlasting love and marriage

and I ran my fingers and thumbs
across the petals, fingering them
right off their stems until they fluttered
down to the table raining white and red
before I knew it, I had made a mess

then I gathered the discarded petals
the red and white settling into a path
to my bedroom and the shape of a heart on my bed
to stage the appearance that all I had done
while you were gone is wait and pine for your return

Breakfast with the King

No one believes that my dog can be vicious
Since none of them are charged with his care in the early morning
when he is at his most demanding, obnoxious, and even violent
stomping around my bed and torso like a littler Napoleon
stepping on the very roots of my hair to pull them from my skull
which produces my shriek of course, but also a sound like Velcro
and then raises a paw to tip over my opened water bottle on the bedside table
looking me dead in the eye before he does it—all of this happens in under a minute

of course, he could’ve spent the last hour and a half asking more politely
before he resorted to this. It’s entirely possible I just slept through it
but there I go again, making excuses for him

after breakfast, like a beloved cult leader, he rewards my service lavishly
when we get back into bed, he stretches his back with his paws against my chest
produces my very favorite tiny sound from the back of his throat when he yawns
a sound like “ah!” and then he nestles up into my neck and kisses my earlobe

How I earned an all expense paid vacation to Egypt

Because I know how to work the system

And because I am a pretty woman

Who finds it easy to get donations

I was able to get Essam a bed and bed frame, the table and chairs he so desperately wanted

A full set of dishes, utensils, pots, pans, pillows and sheets

Within a week

Since he was eating standing up and sleeping on a naked air mattress

I figured he was the most needy

But I should be careful

Because Essam has always been in love with me

Today, he insisted, that the second he gets his American passport

He is taking me on an all expense paid trip to Egypt-nice hotel, fancy meals, everything.

Really, he said, put aside two weeks