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Zakzzz5 Profile
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Devil Ears


 
A type of Pit Bull
with large devil ears
tentative gaze
knowing you as a stranger
he is wondering
whether you bring water.

“Why am I here
what is this place
where all these dogs bark
these concrete walls
with no place to walk
no grass no earth
what is this place?”


That gaze
that gentleness to go
with you after the walk
back into the cage
through the iron-grated gate
to cold concrete
after having tasted
the sweet grass outside.
Dec/3/2012, 8:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
36064 Profile
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Re: Devil Ears


Z---


the only poem more difficult than a political poem is a poem about animals.

big congrats for tackling this almost impossible task.

Black Beauty. Lassie. Old Yeller. Yeats and Dylan Thomas.


A type of Pit Bull
with large devil ears
tentative gaze
knowing you as a stranger


i very much like this clear, opening especially with those unexpected devil ears.

but the lines quoting the dog aren't working for me. and you?



“Why am I here
what is this place
where all these dogs bark
these concrete walls
with no place to walk
no grass no earth
what is this place?”

That gaze
that gentleness to go
with you after the walk
back into the cage
through the iron-grated gate
to cold concrete
after having tasted
the sweet grass outside.

i like the iron-grated gate, but less so the literal statement: that gentleness to go....

it's the word---


gentleness


i felt the need for speed. i felt the need for a rough line describing this veteran, this unwitting champion.

the long scar along his flank
as though applied by a surgeon.

his fur? i don't know, but something.

a fierce holding back,
eyes full of previous
fights, the free scent
of grass where he was
last walked....


you see my take, but your poem captures his
deep anxiety and loving nature barely conealed behind bars.

glad you tried this.


bernie




Dec/4/2012, 5:07 am Link to this post Send Email to 36064   Send PM to 36064 Blog
 
queenfisher Profile
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Re: Devil Ears


dear zak

“Why am I here
what is this place
where all these dogs bark
these concrete walls
with no place to walk
no grass no earth
what is this place?”

this place has to be Mumbai! the description fits so well! like the pit bull i ask - everyday!

but you've put the malise in a very concise manner - in a few lines you've captured the universal problem - grass giving way to concrete.

the opening has a startling quality & the end poignancy.

a poem that does its job!
Dec/4/2012, 5:27 am Link to this post Send Email to queenfisher   Send PM to queenfisher Blog
 
vkp Profile
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Re: Devil Ears


Zak, I agree with Bernie about the dog's pov lines not quite working. I, too, would like more of the dog's presence, but think you do a lovely job conveying his gentleness, his sweetness -- all the more poignant (heartbreaking, really) because he is imprisoned and unwanted, and has no grass to call his own.
vkp
Dec/4/2012, 11:06 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Devil Ears


I come to the poem actively prepared to dislike it, as I actively dislike most such addresses to abandoned and neglected domesticated animals. Too much faux sentimentality on the master sleeve. But the poem works for me, operates in the same range as one of Rilke's best known, most perfectly realized poems. His The Panther. A poem, by the way, written from the point of view of the animal in his zoo cage.

Maybe what makes the poem work is that it accepts limitation, knows it cannot effectively speak to anything other than the moment in which the poem stands. I think that is it.

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-panther/

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Dec/8/2012, 1:06 pm
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Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: Devil Ears


Terreson,

I'll respond to the others soon. Just to let you know that magnificent animal was put down a week ago. I came in and asked about him. The new guy who does the euthanizations said, "Ah, we had kept him a long time, and he started getting sick." I had seen him the a week earlier and he seemed perfectly healthy.

I recognize what you mean by faux sentimentality. But they say these animals sense it when they are taken into the room where they are euthanized. I think many seem to sense it earlier. Or maybe it's just the nature of the concrete cages, the odor, the lack of exercise. It's especially hard on the Huskies and Malamutes, who are used to doing heavy work.

quote:

Terreson wrote:

I come to the poem actively prepared to dislike it, as I actively dislike most such addresses to abandoned and neglected domesticated animals. Too much faux sentimentality on the master sleeve. But the poem works for me, operates in the same range as one of Rilke's best known, most perfectly realized poems. His The Panther. A poem, by the way, written from the point of view of the animal in his zoo cage.

Maybe what makes the poem work is that it accepts limitation, knows it cannot effectively speak to anything other than the moment in which the poem stands. I think that is it.

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-panther/

Tere



Dec/9/2012, 11:58 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: Devil Ears


Bernie -- Glad the first stanza worked. I’ll look at the second one.

Queenfisher -- You got it. Grass giving way to concrete. Also, how most people turn away from the problem. But that was only implied.

Vkp -- Interesting you want more of the dog’s presence, but Terreson indicates the poem cannot speak to anything but the moment. I’m going to scratch my head over the difference if indeed there is a difference there.

Terreson -- I read the panther poem and liked it. He really seemed to get into the animal’s predicament, but I didn’t pick up on his willingness to get involved in any way. Do you know if he did, other than to write the poem, of course.
Dec/9/2012, 5:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Devil Ears


Hi Zak,

Excellent title. Good first stanza. My initial reaction to S2 was a bit like Bernie's and vkp's: wondered if humanizing the dog in this way wasn't too much, too sentimental? Then I read Tere's comment, which gave me pause. Today I read an essay that talked about a poem in which the N tries to “inhabit with sympathy the solitude of another being.” Which gave me some more pause.

Tonight I have come back to your poem, reread it, and have one thought: read right S2 could be either the N or the dog thinking, or it could be both. And the reader too. I admit I came to this realization when I tried dropping the "I" and roughing up the syntax:

"Why
what is this place
all these barking dogs
concrete walls
no place to walk
no grass no earth
what is this place?”

The last stanza works, I think, to the extent the reader buys/accepts/identifies with the second one.

If you are interested in reading about the poem I mentioned, scroll down to the paragraph on Heighton’s “Collision,” which is a poem about a deer he has struck with his car and whose internal voice he tries to capture." Not exactly material for a poem one would expect to find in this year's The Best of American Poetry. Hell, some people are still trashing Stafford for his dead deer poem from years ago:

http://poems.com/special_features/prose/essay_rosenwald_bap.php



Last edited by Katlin, Dec/12/2012, 6:59 pm
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