Poetry from J.K. Durick

 Watching the Watchdog

Almost completely blind now, he still watches,

lies by the front screen door, doing the job he

took on years ago, being a watchdog threatening,

warning, ready to bark at anyone passing by –

children playing, people walking by with other

dogs, workmen starting up some project across

the way, of course the mailman, actually, anyone,

everyone. This is a tame neighborhood, easy to

watch, easy for him to think he controlled in some

way, a job he did for years, he must have felt that

this was his contribution, always expecting a treat

after a morning, an afternoon of watching, that’s

what a watchdog does, he watches, he warns, he

contributes. But now, almost blind and losing his

hearing this work becomes close to imaginary,

something he remembers and acts out, his mind’s

eye sees a cat out there, sees passersby, people

walking, cars driving by, hears doors opening,

doors closing, voices, whole choruses of people

and dogs and squirrels, and since he’s a watchdog

he barks, even stands sometimes, wagging his tail,

fur up, warning, threatening. I still praise him for it,

pat him on the head and stand with him pretending

that something is out there that needs our attention.

                  Nap

Yesterday my neighbor went after my nap with a chainsaw.

That impertinent tree of his, the one that leaned over his

deck promising to fall in the next windstorm, brought this on.

I can picture how he worked it; laying out the tree with a few

cuts into the truck, then the smaller limbs and branches loped

off, good for kindling I imagine, and then sawing the main part

into smaller pieces, fireplace size logs for his winter evenings,

quiet evenings for this usually quiet man. But yesterday he came

after me and my nap like a Northwest lumberjack, full of rumble

and roar. I closed the windows, I closed the blinds, but there he

was roaring and racing around the bedroom chasing my nap, a nap

I had worked up to all morning, my nap in full retreat, now being

pursued into this corner, that corner, everywhere it was supposed

to be. He kept shouting something about necessity and prerogative,

asking questions, like “aren’t you too old to be napping” or “aren’t

you too young to be napping?” There I was, Sunday afternoon, the

perfect time for napping and there he was, making Monday morningnoise. “Get up,” he said – and so I did.

                   Walks

Get up, step out, walk to the corner and back,

walk around the block, further on some days,

others less. Up and out, these walks don’t go

a friend’s house, or some store, or a workplace,

they are an end in themselves. Up, out, these

are old people’s walks, a bit of exercise, we are

told is good for us, a bit of getting up and out

around the neighborhood to see its few sights.

Up and out, away from the couch, the recliner,

away from the TV, the game shows and reruns,

the news that’s unsettling at best. We get up, step

out, they must see us go by, in a way we become

an expected part of their day, some nod, some

say a word or two, but most just watch us go by

pretending not to see us, pretending they won’t

be us in a few years, fewer years than they know

are coming. Then they’ll join us, get up, get out,

will walk to the corner, around the block, a bit

of exercise, of getting out, and an end in itself.

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