Black Dog

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“I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.” 
-JOHN KEATS
 
I heard Churchill had called it canine.
It woke me just this morning, soft nose pushed
to my sleepy cheek, breath shuttling down
my cool neck: my faithful black dog.
His tail clubbed me all shades of violet.
The sun disc-sawed me in half.
 
He follows me to the kitchen.
Here he comes, his wolfish shape
gleaming like polished jet. I stoop over
my coffee, hiss at him to shoo.
My voice is thick as seafoam
and the silly dog is deaf;
his dumb tongue a huge slab of mauve,
searching my hand like a rodent.
When milk won’t do, he loves the salt of rivers.
His rough tongue batters my eye.
 
Wherever I go, he follows.
At office desks, restaurant booths,
hunched in the seat of a taxi,
my faithful dog sniffs out my bones.
When lovers come, he turns possessive.
I wriggle free from their fingers,
stop them kissing the sides of my jaw.
They leave when I talk to the papered wall
and tell them the guard dog is snarling.
I grieve when their footsteps have died.
 
I go to bed at odd hours
to watch the small pulse of blue time.
When sleep stands me up for the zero moon,
the dog strikes me down with his paw. 
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