March 8_Eulogy for a Dog

See Tupelo Press to read the poems for March 8, 2014 by scrolling down to “Day 8/Poems 8” and of course, to read my poem, Eulogy for a Dog / by John C. Mannone.

The backstory is as follows:

“Eulogy for a Dog” was one of the most difficult poems to write and it took me four years to be able to get past the first line before I started to get choked-up on the words. I reasoned that when I could write a poem about Max, my Border collie, the grieving would be sufficiently behind me that I might be able to let another dog in my life. Max died from suspected poisoning and, I reason, by the same folks who have broken into my house and/or garage four times between November 2013 and February 2014 (and earlier).

I suppose I have harbored a deep sense of guilt for his loss, and for the loss of several other dogs, even as far back as fifty-seven years. Yes, even as an eight-year old, I felt responsible for the death of a four-month old boxer whom I had fed watermelon. In my young mind, I reasoned if I hadn’t done that, Leoncito (meaning little lion in Spanish) wouldn’t have needed to go outside to pee, and run out into the street, and get hit by a speeding car. The dog died in my arms. Sadly, I must have harbored that sense of guilt for every dog I had lost.

I started to tell you about those very special dogs in my life, but found it to be too difficult to do. However, despite the pain, I can say that it is very liberating to have written this poem. Let us never underestimate the therapeutic value of a poem.

The last time I tried to write a poem for Max was a little more than a year ago (February 2013), but I failed miserable. Instead, however, I was able to write one for Mike, another big dog, a lovable mutt, who had died of natural causes three years before Max’s death, but whom I should have put down to spare him the pain. But my being able to write “Of Demons and Dogs” encouraged me; it was a sign that my grieving would not be indefinite (in the sense of my feeling that I would not ever be able to get another dog).

“Eulogy for a Dog” perhaps should be called “Eulogy for Max,” but I want people to know from the get-go that Max was a dog. The style is mostly that of a conversational narrative, which is necessarily prosy. However, I try to lift this into poetry with attention to rhythm, some good turns of the line, and of course, good images whenever possible. I strived to give a good pay-off at the end of each section, which arguably renders them as four stand-alone parts. This might be considered a piece of creative nonfiction written as a poem.

I plan to get a dog this spring.

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