A Man Walks His Dog Ted Burke Poetry

local_library A Man Walks His Dog

by Ted Burke

Published in Issue No. 285 ~ February, 2021

A man walks his dog

but the dog holds the leash

between bottom and upper

rows of teeth that know

chew toys and biscuits

as distinct from the rest

of the world contained

on these few blocks to the park.


The man lights a cigarette

and drops the match

in front of the swings

at the playground

where he sits on a bench,

waiting for his dog to

find a favored spot

to remember in later days

when it might be

a kingdom for a friendly scent

when there is only barking

behind the fences they pass

coming and going between

the store and home again.


This winter the sun is

caught in the bare branches

of trees surrendered

to the season,

the light is cold on the breath,

a man walks a dog in jerky steps,

the dog raises his head

and growls, drops the

leash from his teeth,

a car passes by

and a dog in the back seat

has head sticking out of the window,

yelping against the wind

the envelopes

his face in a perfect wrap

of jet streams pinning his

ears to the back of his head,

The man’s dog runs

after the car,

barking and baying

along the street

lined with snowdrifts and slush,

unleashed in the cold,

gasping for the man’s hand

and the leash he swings

like lariat catching cattle

the size of boxcars.



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Ted Burke is a writer, editor, musician and bookseller in San Diego, California.