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That scrawny shelter woman

With her bony fingers

And lop-sided smile

Loved those stray dogs

More than all the people

She had ever known,

Would hum hymns

For them most Sundays

Walking barefoot

On their dirt floor kennels

Using her sing-song voice

To coax them from under

Trailer tops and lean-tos

Scratching behind ears

Belly rubs and pat-pats

Dumping food into old tin

Bowls and frying pans

Hosing water into buckets

With chewed-up rims,

When I first met her

She had a blood red scratch

Diagonally across her face

Something she was proud

To wear, telling me how

The old timid dog’s paw

Had struck her, claw to skin

Playfully and in gratitude

For his food and shelter,

It was a mark she traced

Fondly, with her bony fingers

Like a roadmap to a memory

She would treasure, long after

The old dog was gone.

Cats of Hemingway


It seemed to her she must

Have been the keeper

Of the reincarnated

Cats of Hemingway,

When the last cat passed,

She left his water dish

Filled where it was

On the kitchen floor

Evaporating over days

Until the dish was dry

As dust and bones.

To her, it was another

Quiet sort of passing,

She placed it on the shelf

From where she’d taken it

When he’d first arrived,

A rangy stray who would

Taunt her with his

Comings and goings,

Only then did she

Feel the true loss of him.

Ten Winters


I dreamt of my black dogs

The ones that had passed on

Glossy fur, tails wagging

In a house I’d never lived in

Wandering through rooms

Furnished with flea market

Finds, a delicate breeze

Lifting silky pale curtains

Enticing us to a garden porch

Enclosed in shade screen

Filled with pots of flowers

Long dead for ten winters

But my dogs, so alive, so elated

To see me, even for that

Briefest moment in a dream.

The Hermit's Dog


Finally by Sunday 
Elephant clouds rupture
Into gray silk sheets of sky
Spilling over emerald forests
Across blue spruce swaying
Under a swift wind galloping
Across meadows elongated 
By feathered light at dusk
Alerting the Hermit’s Dog
Who sleeps unsoundly
In darkening doorways
Ribbons of moonlight 
Tucked beneath each paw
One eye open, guarding
Her keeper like prey safely
Hidden from this land
Of predators.

Poems by: CJ Clark 

CJ Clark is an artist/illustrator, novelist, poet and hospice nurse living with her three rescued dogs and literary cats near Austin, Texas. Her poetry can be found in Verse-Virtual, NatureWriting, Harbinger Asylum, and I Have a Name Anthology journals. Her novels and art may be viewed at www.cjclarkartist.com.

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