Joan Colby, “The Dog and Me Howling”

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, etc. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published eighteen books, including Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press, which received the 2013 FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize, and Ribcage from Glass Lyre Press, which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her most recent books are Carnival and The Salt Widow, both from FutureCycle Press.

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The Dog and Me Howling

The dog saw him die
So she knows
The way a cow who delivers
A dead calf sniffs it
And walks away making a sorry noise.

If I say his name,
She sits in front of me
And stares into my eyes.
If I cry, she howls.
She wants us to howl together.
She throws back her head,
Escalating to an almost-scream,
So I scream too.
She licks my face.
Isn’t this better?

When years ago our male shepherd
Witnessed his mate die,
He howled nonstop for three days.
He sat in his pen like an old
Obsidian god.

This dog, who loved to guard the man
Who was failing, has lost her job.
She’s agitated, walking around the house
Knocking things off shelves on purpose.

I give her a time-out in her crate.
She puts her head on her paws
And is quiet. Her eyes follow me
As I move to the sink to wash dishes.
How much can she possibly know
About sorrow? Enough, I think. Enough.





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