I love our pup, she whose DNA chooses to chew
the coffee table’s legs, any book, shoe or the pair
of reading glasses I left where anyone my age
would set them in case of fire, storm, the need
to finally pay a bill, much less an inappropriate
drop-in by someone you would never add to
your daughter’s wedding invitation list. However
it’s 7am and I must feed her. There’s a schedule,
a set of behaviors prescribed in validated tomes
by those who decided never to major in philosophy,
dance history, or literature. They opened their minds
to trial and error, determining a schedule is for sure
the only way to raise a confident and willing companion
who will at some unfathomable day give up dragging
anything dangling—bed spread, sweater, scarf, shower curtain—
who will come when called, sit, lie down, heel, fetch, love
me even when there is no treat. But it’s 7am and I
staggered to bed after meeting a deadline at 3am.
The schedule proclaims “Feed the pup at the same time
every day.” If she sleeps just a measly hour longer, do I
risk her turning into the neighborhood’s teeth baring
dingo who digs up Mrs. Phelps’s petunias, snarls
at the priest on his daily walk, steals the dump truck
from the sandbox down the street, snaps at the kid
selling magazines for a trip to Haiti? Will I be
the one whose best friend must be muzzled for
sleeping into just one more hour of just another day?
Do I take a rabid risk? Oh hell, God bless the kibble.
Jack Ridl’s collection Broken Symmetry was named the year’s best collection by The Society of Midland Authors. His Practicing to Walk Like a Heron received the Gold Medal for Poetry from ForeWord Review/ALA, and his Against Elegies was chosen by Billy Collins for The Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize. He was named Michigan’s Professor of the Year by the Case/Carnegie Foundation. More than 90 of his students are now publishing their work, several of whom have won first book awards.