1. Haruki Murikami’s name-stealing monkey in “A Shinagawa Monkey”.
2. The dogs in Mark Doty’s Dog Years are part of the reason that this is the only book that’s ever made me cry.
3. The young tapir at the end of Lydia Millet’s How the Dead Dream plays a pivotal role in the novel’s extraordinary ending.
4. The turtle that struggles to cross the road in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
5. The pack of wolves at the wedding in Willa Cather’s My Antonia. AttackSeton
6. The rabid dog in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.
7. Richard Wright’s Native Son opens with Bigger Thomas stalking a rat.
8. It’s bad luck for the obedient dog in Annie Proulx’s Postcards whose owner orders him to stay at the top of a hill and then forgets about him until he’s deserted his home and traveled many miles away.
9. Behemoth, the enormous talking cat in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.
10. The ancient collie in Jo Ann Beard’s remarkable essay, “The Fourth State of Matter.”
11. Finally, one of our very own. Stu, the astute German Shepherd in “Explaining Death to a Dog” by Susan Perabo published in The Missouri Review.”
"Aint it just like that kind
to be fertile as cats,” the mister said to the missus
in the parlor room of the house.
I cottoned they was talking about me
an’ my belly, like I didn’t know
how that come to pass.
The missus took me by the hand to a root-worker
down by the river. She had yarbs hanging
all over her shack, and one lamed-up old dog.
“Papooseroot,” she says. “It grows in the forest.
But you best know what all you’re getting
or it’ll kill the both ya.”
She made up a bitters for me
from plants as grow in the deep of the woods,
lank things and dangerous.
“Drank this of an evening,” she says, “and say
th’ow it away, th’ow it away, th’ow it away.
There will commence a flow of blood by and by.”
Th’ow it away, she tells me, they be others.
The next one mos’ kindly let hisself out,
running away – just like I did right thereafter,
putting my hopes like solid money
on the first kind face as come along,
figuring it better than what I knowd on that farm.
Short but no way sweet, that companioning,
but long enough to spark a child. I counted my days
as the show headed down to winter quarters.
I axt and I found: a doctor in a dark office
that I come to through the back, and left the same,
bent over creeping through the alleys.
Then once, it was in York State, I begged a tonic
from a woman run a bawdy house, a work of night
an’ pulled shades, like the blood gathered up in the body.
Well, I come to being solitary, and well satisfied
in that, ’til Shelby. And for love, for love, they was no child
to be made. Fate in the lines on the side of my palm,
the children marked to me, one two three four:
what was throwd away not to be give again,
no more ’lowed to my account.
As for that first? I dreamt him live, many a night,
dreamt him standing by my cot, an’ he wore
a dent in his chin like the mister and all his get.
to see the part that sees
coaxed out from its place
of hiding, like the shadow
page you soon will turn
to lay upon another.
Perhaps there is a bone
to mend, a heart we hardened
when we were far away.
The past is always out there—
we know that—and never is.
Forgiveness is difficult
for this reason. And sweet.
You see it everywhere,
the dead hand that brought you
into the world, the birth
cry you cannot remember.
Somewhere a wasp unzips
the air and we pass through.
No, you have never passed
this way before. And yet
this particular spoon,
with the ceiling fan
spinning in its eye,
is on the verge of something,
confessing its attachment,
taking you, like some
drunk exaggeration, back.
Try, it says, to feed
yourself in both worlds,
to give to both, fit in,
and so move about more
freely. As if we might
forget when we are
thinking of forgetting.
Or look a little closer
by looking at the act
of looking. We might, you know.
Try, say all the fathers
with their dying and ours,
to blaze without burning,
the way one sun blazes
with many suns, and none
so blinding as today.”
Where is the military genius to grasp this terrible engine?
Winchester wrote. This gun that can be loaded
on Sunday and fired all week. This gun that makes a man
the equal of a company each minute, a regiment in ten,
a full brigade in thirty. This daylight full of lead—
where is the genius to grasp it? This terrible engine
that can sink in a river, fire like it’s never been
wet? A resolute man on horseback can travel West
for a month of Sundays: this gun makes a man
always ready. So He Cannot Be Captured. No weapon
more effective in the world, its aim more deft.
Where is the military genius to grasp this terrible engine—
to look past its sometime misfires, its uneven
first trials? To see like history it repeats itself (and yes,
sometimes stutters). To fire the gun makes a man
almost certain of safety. Against grizzly or Injun,
unequaled. Loaded safe as a church nave. And yet
where is the military genius to grasp this terrible engine?
Load it on Sunday; fire all week. This gun makes a man.