local_library Sleeping with My Dog

by Gary J. Whitehead

Published in Issue No. 191 ~ April, 2013

Even with deer ticks, even with fleas

even with his snores, breaths

I can’t time with mine

in those moments before

both of us fall asleep,

when his back foot begins kicking

like a musician keeping a beat,

and the white of his filmy eye

rises into the night sky of his doggy mind

even with these, and with the skunky waft

of his silent farts, his dreamy woofs

which sometimes wake me,

I sleep not really more soundly

but more contentedly

than I would were I alone,

the way a caveman might have,

during the Stone Age, say,

firelight dancing on a wet wall,

his arm draped over something furry

and warm and respiring not quite in time

with his own life-giving exchange

in some cool and smoky room.

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Gary J. Whitehead's poems recently appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Epoch, and The Massachusetts Review. His third book of poetry, A Glossary of Chickens, was chosen by Paul Muldoon for the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets and published in 2013 by Princeton University Press. His work has been featured on Garrison Keillor's NPR program The Writer's Almanac and on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Guardian’s Poem of the Week. Whitehead has been the recipient of the Anne Halley Poetry Prize (The Massachusetts Review), a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, and the Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award. A featured poet at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and the Princeton Poetry Festival, he teaches English at Tenafly High School in New Jersey and lives in the Hudson valley of New York.