Sometimes harvest mice
sleep in tulips, jackdaws
fall in love, cows have best friends.
These are all dog facts. The facts are as relevant
as temperature or sound. More so, even, than
a poem, which circles the thing
without getting too close. Dogs are poems
in this way. However, dogs are not poems.
Ask a dog for comment, and she will probably sneeze.
The human brain tells us
the human brain is the smartest animal.
Ok, make me happy, brain.
The dog is happy, always.
She spends all day in the
high music of wild smell.
And so it bores her when I shut tight
the blinds and retreat to my tulip,
smelling of dry linen and sweat.
I have my complaints too:
She always lays perpendicular
in bed like a tiny brown hyphen,
she has never once written
a poem, told me she loves me,
used a doorknob, or paid rent.
But on good days, she will go into my closet
while I’m at work to build her own tulip
from stolen shoes and everything is cloudless.
To her, a heart is just food. O,
Somebody, please give me a dog brain
and send me out in the world to feel lucky.
Consider my friend’s house that burned
while she was at work. I helped
interpret the wreckage and came home
with the wet, chemical stink of a melted TV,
the greasy shells of camera equipment,
and worst, the only part worth mourning,
a tiny stain under a chair
where her dog friend curled up to die.
The firefighter had said smoke inhalation
is a quick death. He actually said
it’s like going to sleep. I was too busy
with rental insurance logistics to grieve.
Would you believe me if I told you she dug up
the other dog’s collar like she knew he was gone?
Or that this all happened on Valentine’s Day?
You have to. These are the facts.
Rowan, I’m so sorry for the too-short walks
and that you can’t eat onions. I am sorry
for the facts and fire. For the things we call
questions: Where do I go all day long? Why
aren’t we at the beach? What’s a person or a dog anyway?
The human brain tells us dogs are fifth smartest,
behind parrots and dolphins and us,
but advises caution and consideration
for the unknown species, maybe living underwater
or in space. But tonight demands no caution or consideration.
I have been gifted a dog-head
snug in the tulip of my palm, dog attached,
which is itself a dog poem for: Hey, forget the human word
for worry, take me outside to sniff night air and run.
Clayton Krollman is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland and the Jiménez-Porter Writers' House. He lives in Asheville, NC where he writes poetry, prose, and blended fiction. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Moon City Review, The Penn Review, THAT Literary Review, and elsewhere. He can be contacted on Twitter at @claytonkrollman.