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A Poem: Two Dogs 

The dog had not always barked so much. In the car the first time he trembled quiet in the backseat and then the car's floor when the backseat became a place to relieve himself. He would sit upright on the kitchen floor and look up, his mouth closed and his eyes unblinking and watch the seated man watching him, the man putting a piece of meat on his fork and the slow move to his mouth, his whole body turned toward the dog on the ground looking up. The dog learned to bark with purpose then upon that first piece shucked downward and he learned to bark to speak. The man grew tired of even those first barks and learned how he could make the dog quiet again and so he did. The dog spread into his age and became hard of hearing and awoke one morning totally and irreversibly deaf and no longer raised his head to the chime of the hall's clock or the five o'clock slamming of the driver's-side at the curb and the slow plod up the back stairs and he did not seem to mind his deafness. He would sit upright on the floor and look up and bark and wait and eat and bark and wait and eat and having no faculty to understand tomorrow or even later tonight but every faculty to understand now and what he would do and how he would do it. He would sit and bark and the man knew the dog was deaf and he was listening alone and when the last bit had been dropped he cursed the dog for its ways and raised his voice and yelled and cursed and asked what kind of God what kind of God would make such a thing that could not see its own self as a thing among other things. When the last bit had been dropped he would curse the dog and the dog would sit and look up, his mouth closed and his eyes unblinking, and he would bark.

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  • A poem by Rick Harnden


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