Rabid Dog

Judith Skillman

When you wake me 
I tend your stenosis
brush your bad mouth

I try to catch the happy fleas
bouncing up from bed sheets
where we sleep together

I pet and fondle those pretty stones
clustered around your neck
Swarovski crystals set in grape leather 

Best friend of man
like a Berlin train with plush seats
you run on a timetable 

Your presence fetters my ankles
although I honor in principle
the morals that keep me from leaving

Dog born of wolf I promise
in these new vows to try harder 
to hear your infection

Listen to my hand absently petting 
the bark the yip the howl the rage

Judith Skillman’s new book is Came Home to Winter, Deerbrook Editions. She is the recipient of grants from Artist Trust and the Academy of American Poets. Her poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Poetry, Cimarron Review, Zyzzyva, and other journals. Visit www.judithskillman.com

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