Steve Kronen
January 2009

A Boy and His Dog

And up and down the ragged coast
gulls draft on the high blue airs, coast
the underside of a nimbus
drifting past reach, big as a bus
on a high and skinny road. Wave
good-bye. It is leaving now. Waive
any right to see it again.
The bright stars, the prickly stars, gain
on the sky. They sprawl forever,
and you’ll not, with all your effort,
see an end to them, never see
where the sky goes – you think, Mercy,
have mercy
. The cloud, out of sight,
has floated now to some far site
on the other side of the world,
has changed shapes so many times, whirled
about, you’d never recognize
it, even if you kept your eyes
fixed up beyond the dark that spans
the night, the entire expanse
of it. Yet watch for its return,
stay steady, it’ll come back, turn
some corner. If you threw your heart
upward into the dark, threw hard,
you’d never hear it hit bottom,
some small echo come back. But I’m
patient, you think, can wait; either
a slight ripple through the ether
will tickle my skin, or my ear
will tingle inside and I’ll hear
it, my heart, come as through a sea,
come from far away; have mercy,
it might say, great shaggy being
trying to grasp just where it’s been,
where it’s going, fully explain,
calmly this once, in language plain
enough so that this time, for once,
there’ll be no mistakes. It wants
it says, do you understand, wants,
says it so plainly that you wince,
look at your feet. O dear sweet dog,
big, wet tongue hanging out, dogged,
chasing its fast cars, its busses,
fast clouds, who, despite all busses
you with its bright dog kisses, loves
you, wags its tail back and forth, laves
its doggy self on your bowed head.
And you whisper, at last, let’s head
home, and it understands, yes, si,
oui, watch out for cars, have mercy

Published in Splendor, BOA Editions; first published in Ploughshares.