August 7, 2010


For Zamboni

You benefited from dogs before,
dogs tied on a chain and staked
Dogs penned in cold plywood houses,
dogs that dug into cool pools of rain water.
With each passing dog came an improvement
from the yard stake to the first floor
to the doghouse and the heavy chain
to a nap in front of the fireplace
to a penned-in doghouse
raised off the cold ground
and overflowing fresh straw inside,
for sleeping behind,
a burlap bag door.
From a shared pen
to the basement crates side by side.

All to you, the last dog who sleeps on a $200 orthopedic cushion
Intercepting concrete cold chilled by an underground spring.
You, the last dog,
who whimpers when left outside alone,
Who nudges again and again
for a long-nailed belly rub.
You, the last dog,
who takes the kid’s dirty laundry
And cuddles it like a pillow.
You, who never learned
to take a biscuit in a gentle way
Or come when called
if there’s a better deal elsewhere.
And I won’t go into the things you ate after a scolded “NO!”
And the way you returned that contraband.
Oh, you remember, don’t you, the slime ball in your crate that day,
It had us wondering which end it came from and what it was,
Until some prodding proved it to be a sock you ate
From a stranger’s shoe left on the soccer field one night.

You are the last dog for this old man.
The mornings are dark and cold in winter
And the summer nights
full of stinging mosquitoes.
That, six, is the magic number,
that, after you,
Last dog, there shall be
no seven, no other dog.

- By Anthony Buccino
From AMERICAN BOY: Pushing Sixty

Also appears in Retrieving Labrador Days - Dog tales in prose and verse

Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.

1 comment:

Susan Cross said...

You made me cry again. Please don't say that. You must never be without a dog. What will draw you out of your shell on a cold, winter morning when you want to stay inside and hibernate? Who will drag you outside for a walk around the block even when you're tired, had too much pasta and don't feel like moving? You need your dog to keep you fit and happy and have that special kind of unconditional love (not that you don't get it from your family) but for you a dog is a special part of family. One who is happy just to be in the room with you without conversation just breathing the same air. I am not a good dog person. I love them but don't want to get out of bed until I'm ready. You must always have a dog. You're too young to stop. 20 years from now maybe, but not now.