The first poem I put in was one of my own which I thought was a shoe-in for the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Prize. Alas no such luck. Apparently, there are many fine poets to choose from. “Wonder is a Bridge” should find a home soon if I can just find time to submit it.
Next I posted “Cat on Eggs” by Barbara Drake from her collection Driving One Hundred. It was Easter after all. Barbara’s work published by Windfall Press reminded me that Bill Siverly continues to produce volumes of Windfall: A Journal of Poetry of Place from which many Poetry Box poems are sure to come.
Jessica Acevedo selected Donald Finkel’s “Hound Song” first published in What Manner of Beast. Asking permission from Donald proved to be a little difficult but ended up with a conversation with his son, Tom. Tom gave me some wonderful back-story on two of his father’s poems. About “Hound Song” he writes…
“Hound Song,” as you note, is from a collection called What Manner of Beast, which is dominated by poems about nonhuman intelligence and the ways in which humans interact with animals, as well as with humans such as the “wild child” types who are raised in nature and then rescued — or captured — by humans.
“Hound Song” is about a dog who came to us when we were living in Vermont. he was a beagle, a stray who turned up on our doorstep one day. A sweet, sweet dog, who had the not uncommon beagle habit of getting into the trash whenever possible. He was also epileptic, which required daily doses of phenobarbitol. So yeah, he was stoned a lot of the time.
The poem hits me harder than it probably hits others, given my attachment to its subject (and, now that I mention it, my attachment to the author). I only vaguely remember taking Binker (I named him, after an A.A. Milne poem about an imaginary friend) to the vet to be put down. I do, though, remember hearing Dad read that poem. Also a snapshot of Binker my mother kept on top of the roll-top desk in her study, with a quote from Rudyard Kipling she’d inked on the back:
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.