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.


by Jack Ridl

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.

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