“BLACKDOOG™” by Charles Harper Webb

Charles Harper Webb


Its wet fur smells like pepperoni pizza.
Its skin kills ticks and fleas on contact.
Its droppings—green!—blend perfectly

with grass, and break down into weed-
killing fertilizer that won’t stick to shoes.
Blackdoog bites only criminals,

but sniffs those out unerringly. Its gills
(for water-rescues), blue stalk-eyes,
and elephant-trunk make it ideal to kick-

start conversation. Its gentleness
and nurturing drive, along with mammaries
that produce human milk, make it perfect

for the nursery. Its manual dexterity
and general “handiness” let it fix anything
around the house, and program the VCR.

Its sole drawback is its intelligence—
150 minimum on the Stanford-Binet—
which gives it an off-putting air of authority,

and a tendency to stare into space,
ignoring commands to fetch and beg.
My doog—when my wife left me

for his litter-mate, and I was at my loneliest—
would levitate into my tallest oak
to contemplate, alone, the falling night,

the white light rising from its fur
giving it the look of an ascended master,
or a moon caged in the branches of my tree.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
Tribute to Speculative Poetry

[download audio]


Charles Harper Webb: “When I was sixteen, playing in rock bands and preparing to become a physicist, if someone had said, ‘You’ll end up a poet,’ I’d have assumed they’d end up swinging a rubber hoe on the funny farm. Now I find I’ve written poems for more than half of my life. So why (besides the groupies and big bucks) do I persist? For one thing, I hope to give to others some of the pleasure that good poems have given me. But I also want to wring more out of the time that I have left—to live, whenever I can, with my awareness, intelligence, and imagination fully engaged. Poetry does that for me.”

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