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October 18, 2012 | Poetry

with dogs in my heart

Peter Berghoef

with dogs in my heart photo

I pretend you are a small Chinese girl.
You pretend I am a horse.
Muscle forms around the bone of the coral reef.
The sharks are nowhere to be seen.

Harold visits the convention.
He wears his brown shoes.
The people pedaling by on the river look at him as he passes.
This is how it works

all of us have collected the same parts
the closets are full of them
we never thought about it that way
we looked up and swallowed
sparrow and wasp alike
the bumblebees and hummingbirds bought condos
they fought to the death in tea cups

forget it if you feel like living here happily
favoring your right leg does not help
I made the mistake of lifting the flap
ignoring juice and sticky sweat

the wrong candy
is in this too
on the first and last step
hair from rare breeds of horses
planted by the chief

I would like your greatest value
this is no tiger on the racetrack
you told me about your malaria
despite the preventative medicine

dripping into the small dish
then the recipe
called for sleeves

I am talking about the one with the monkey paw clutched against her breast. I have no illusions about the others. We can make this work.

They have a special word engraved on the bottoms of their shoes. The project starts when four of them step in the proper squares at the proper time.

Saturday night was plausible. The woman pretending to work on her gin was the ideal candidate. The following Thursday will be a horrible mistake.

all from the mouth
the room full of cats and dogs
their useless tails

any part of the sofa
the cache of snack cakes
under the middle cushion
the ox we have been using

these captives were briefly considered for release
interjecting from inside the cages
coming up with the wildest ideas

the book explains
glaciers in Wisconsin
the album is called
“with dogs in my heart”

puppies in the loaf
an obvious stare
squirrels crunched in the gutter

half of the boxes were empty
we handled products
never intending to make a purchase

oh what a train wreck
hammer after hammer
wave after wave
napkin lists
captains with hands
captains waving from the shore

The cowboy tries hard to not look like a cowboy. People find this very hard to understand. The pony alone could make any young girl happy. The words “spurs” and “canyon” are put inside the coffin.

the headache takes a nosedive
problems are resolved
the plot is a children's show set on a spaceship

don’t let us forget
to undo our pants
to set back our clocks

image: Caleb Curtiss


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