Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Zen master.

Another troubled night. Nearly four . Wilf is finally, finally, asleep in the library. His head resting on my right slipper. On the library table a pile of newly delivered books. Angus picks up a tome of modern American poetry . The sort of thing he wouldn't usually read. Mark Doty. Never heard of him . The dust cover tells me he teaches at Rutgers. I skim through it expecting to be unimpressed . A sonnet . Not a style you find very often . A tale about a dog . I read it three times. Genius. A man who understands that dogs live for the moment . Past, future, worries ; alien concepts to them . Here it is. It made me chuckle with delight.

Golden Retrievals

Fetch ? Balls and sticks capture my attention
seconds at a time. Catch ? I don't think so.
Bunny , tumbling leaf , a squirrel who's -- oh
joy -- actually scared. Sniff the wind , then

I'm off again : muck , pond, ditch, residue
of any thrillingly dead thing. And you ?
Either you're sunk in the past , half our walk,
thinking of what you can never bring back,

or else you're off in some fog concerning
-- tomorrow , is that what you call it ? My work :
to unsnare time's warp ( and woof ! ), retrieving,
my haze-headed friend, you. This shining bark,

a Zen master's bronzy gong, calls you here,
entirely, now : bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.


  1. I love it. Wilf does so well at unsnarling time's warp for a little while for us all each day and I for one am grateful x

  2. Couldn't make up my mind if 'A squirrel who's -- oh joy -- actually scared ' or 'residue of a thrillingly dead thing 'was my favourite line . In the end I settled for ' a Zen masters bronzy gong , calls you here entirely '. Good to know we Americans can write so well. Your four am shift has been worthwhile. Liz xx

  3. wonderful....yes we can all learn a lot from our canine companions.

    hope Wilfee is feeling better this morning..xx

  4. Beautiful. And you may have never found it if you hadn't been up at 4 a.m. being a companion to Wilf.

    XXXOOO Daisy,Bella & Roxy

  5. ...dogs are God's way of showing us how to live and love unconditionally...

  6. Angus, thank-you for sharing this! I've never thought of our dogs as my 'Zen master’s,' but they truly are. Time spent with them really does remind me to not worry about things in the past and the future and when I do, their barks 'call me here.

    I do hope you both get your rest and I so hope that Wilf is feeling better.

  7. Lovely poem - a keeper. Hope darling Wilf is feeling better today.

  8. My three little Zen masters greet you - wishing you good nights and good days ahead - love Susanne, Daisy, Foxiie and Kiri

  9. Tomorrow - is that what you call it ? How wise.
    Fergie and Mona .

  10. Great poem! Thank you for sharing. I hope you and Wilf get a nap today. Many hugs to the sweet Wilfee!

  11. Wilf
    If only hoomans had ouw abilities, how much wichew and happiew they would be
    smoochie kisses

  12. Its thrilling to think that dogs are still willing to keep our aquaintance despite that we don't appreciate much the things they just LOVE. They will probably hold out hope for us forever!


    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  13. A wonderful poem, I certainly will share it with my other dog-loving friends. And the wisteria over the rickety old farmhouse looks just sublime. Sorry to hear that Wilf is having some rough evenings (you too) but hope the worst has passed.

  14. Brilliant! Why oh why cannot we humans think and live just like that? Fingers crossed this bumpy night troubles passes quick. And that everyone gets a full night. Keep on going Wilf!

    With love from your still rainy Canadian pals,
    Dianna along with Tor, Willow and Tucker

  15. I hope that Wilf is feeling better. Two rough nights in a row isn't easy.

    I love the poem. My favorite stanza starts with "or else you're off in some fog -- concerning tomorrow". You've learned not to be in this fog about Wilf (at least it seems that way). That poet truly knows dogs.

    1. I thought of you and K when I read that very line ! . After 18, unexpected, months we've learnt to leave the fog behind.

  16. That made me sob uncontrollably...

  17. oh angus. a perfect poem for the wee hours of worry and all that zen is not.
    you are very zen i think. and we know wilfee is.
    i hope the change in his meds didn't bring this on. but he has survived the sixth week scourge before.
    i can picture his little head on your slipper. his best friend nearby.
    you two are held in my heart today as every day.
    great bear hug to you both!
    tammy j

  18. Anyone who has ever loved and shared life with a dog, knows their life experience view & attitude is far superior, sublime really, to that of the bumbling creature known as a human being. ..DBH

  19. I read a lot of poetry!

  20. .... thinking of what you can never bring back.... oh that is so "me" --- I will reflect on the poem during today's walk. Thank you for sharing it. Sorry about Wilf's troublesome nights.

  21. And we once again are the Poet...why Dogs are such an incredible blessing. Living in the regrets for the past...No worries about the future...the gift of Canine wisdom...In the early morning hours with a warm devoted head on your slipper and an inspired page of words...another moment and memory is stored away for you. Rah. Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed. a {hug} for Wilf.

  22. Our vet fried came over yesterday (social call). She diagnosed our senior dog with renal failure 14 months ago. At that time someone directed me to your blog. It helped immensely in encouraging me to appreciate every day we have. Yesterday old dog was standing and wagging her tail at the vet..begging for treats. Vet smiled and said that with older dogs it is always peaks and valleys. We hope you, like us have more peaks than valleys.

  23. I know of Mark Doty by his book "Dog Years." Loved, loved this poem - need to be pulled often out of the fog. What a blessing; dear Wilf, bad or good nights, your wisdom prevails.

  24. I love the poem! Definitely written by a man who loves a dog!

    I hope Wilf has a better night tonight!

  25. My heart breaks for Wilf and these nights of un-ease..and for you, too!
    Prayers go up that he sleeps peacefully tonight. Love the poem...yes, he DOES get it! And beautifully! Thank you for sharing his work!

  26. Great Poem, so true. I hope you and Wilf have an easier night tonight.

  27. Thank you for sharing the poem...wonderful.

  28. A remarkable poem. Not as a rule that fond of modern poetry, but this poet perhaps an exception. Read something recently about how people and dogs have evolved beside each other for so many tens of thousands of years, and while the human thinks he has shaped the evolution of the dog, the dog knows he has shaped the evolution of the human just as profoundly.

    Hope Wilf is coming out of the downside of this cycle and will be back to enjoying every hour of every day, and sleeping peacefully every hour of the night.

    Jed & Abby

  29. Angus, I can't begin to tell you how many people I've shared that beautiful sonnet with - it even brought one stolid fellow to tears. Thank you for sharing this, as well as the wonderful glimpses of life with Wilf in deepest France profonde.

    Jane and Petey