Poetry Friday: Dog Days

May 11, 2018

Back by popular demand, it’s Poetry Friday, now a regular segment on KNAU. Today we hear from two listeners on the theme of dogs.

Donna Meyer's bearded collie Murphy Madison
Credit Donna Meyer

Donna Meyer of Prescott starts us off with an original poem inspired by a road trip with her Bearded Collie, Murphy Madison, followed by Jamey Hasapis of Flagstaff reading “Dog Music” by Paul Zimmer.

If you’d like to read a published poem, or submit an original work for consideration, send an email to KNAU news director Gillian Ferris at gillian.ferris@nau.edu.

"Whining Road" by Donna Meyer, Prescott

"My husband and I used to explore a lot of backroads, going on picnics, and hiking, and taking our dog with us. This particular poem came from the Beartooth Mountains in Wyoming."

Bumpy and narrow the gravel road

Twisted up the mountain

A red streak like a rusted spiral staircase.

No guardrail gave false assurance.

No warning signs marked the way.

The skidding tires on hairpin turns

Shushed the already quiet forest.

Only a lone raven glided overhead

Cackling caution.

From the back of the truck

Came the whimper and whine

As the dog registered his unhappiness.

The driver chuckled, “That dog must have to pee.”

In a wide spot the truck halted,

The driver released the dog.

But, the passenger and the dog both knew

Nature’s call wasn’t the reason for the stop.

It was the wild ride on Whining Dog Road.

"Dog Music" by Paul Zimmer
Read by Jamey Hasapis, Flagstaff

“Hi, I’m Jamey Hasapis. I’m a Flagstaff resident, and I love dogs! Today I’m reading ‘Dog Music’, by Paul Zimmer. This poem speaks to me in many ways. I’m a musician as well as a dog lover, so when I rehearse I’ve had dogs that have sat there and sung along with me. I have one now who just sits attentively listening to me while I rehearse.”

Jamey Hasapis and his pooch Leo
Credit Jamey Hasapis

Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.

My big dog sang with me so purely,

puckering her ruffled lips into an O,

beginning with small, swallowing sounds

like Coltrane musing, then rising to power

and resonance, gulping air to continue –

her passion and sense of flawless form –

singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.

We joined in many fine songs – “Stardust,”

“Naima,” “The Trout,” “My Rosary,” “Perdido.”

She was a great master and died young,

leaving me with unrelieved grief,

her talents known to only a few.

Now I have a small dog who does not sing,

but listens with discernment, requiring

skill and spirit in my falsetto voice.

I sing her name and words of love

andante, con brio, vivace, adagio.

Sometimes she is so moved she turns

to place a paw across her snout,

closes her eyes, sighing like a girl

I held and danced with years ago.

But I am a pretender to dog music.

The true strains rise only from

the rich, red chambers of a canine heart,

these melodies best when the moon is up,

listeners and singers together or

apart, beyond friendship and anger,

far from any human imposter –

ballads of long nights lifting

to starlight, songs of bones, turds,

conquests, hunts, smells, rankings,

things settled long before our birth.