Dog Crap Poetry
Stephen Fry wrote in The Ode Less Travelled and his "dark and dreadful secret" that he writes poetry. I also admit that I write poetry. However, being an actual poet, likely, is something else, something reserved for those who have mastered technique and imbued it with personal style and effervescent insight, with an elusive, illuminating intelligence. They create poems with the potential to elevate our lives, allow us to see, perhaps even experience life with a slightly new perspective. Given that criteria, I can safely say, I am not a poet. To further make my case, I offer the "dog crap" poems below, written in succession over several days.
Granted, logically, a "poet" can be inspired by almost anything. I’m not sure what it says about me that I was inspired, however briefly, by dog crap. Or, perhaps more accurately, by the act of suburbanites picking up the poetic crap of their dogs. I don’t mean to insult dogs or their owners. I have known some great dogs, and love them, as much as I love the family cat, who often acts like a dog. I apologize in advance, something I seem to have done a lot of over the years, to anyone, especially dog owners, for the crappy focus of these poems.
Yet, here I am, sharing them. Perhaps all us non-poets secretly wish that our small rhymes will help transform our sometimes mundane suburban landscapes. Probably, deep down, I hope that someone will invent a supremely useful and practical scoop for poop, or already has, and it will magically appear on this site, and that many who desperately search for such a thing can click away. But usually those gadgets aren’t nearly as efficient and effective as a plastic covered hand. (Although some interesting items, perhaps worth checking out, actually did appear.)
View From the Rear
She has light-brown, long hair
flopped forward to my lawn,
her bending rear wide but
appealing, she pops the
plastic bag, she wears it
like a glove, flapping pink
against her dainty hand,
my would be lover
attractive even when
she bends to grab the log
of her big brown dog.
Another View from the Rear
All you see when she
squats is her backside
haunches pushed flat;
you miss her gentle soul
her happy eyes, and
her ruby necklace,
which leads to her master,
voluptuous, but less
receptive than she,
jeweled and divine,
happy crapping canine.
Hey you! But only the happy dog
looks up, and her appreciative eyes
are brown and her coat shimmering gold,
and her human still holds the pink plastic
bag, knotted tight and stretched white, long,
the grand lump sideways and showing through
curving and broken, another day of doggie do.
The Ode Less Travelled
For those of you interested in writing poetry, I can recommend Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled (Unlocking the Poet Within). Fry gives excellent explanations of metre, rhyme, form, and diction, provides examples from famous poets (and his own poetry), and poetry writing “exercises.” (I’ve never enjoyed writing exercises, but many of my clients and students have found them useful.) Fry writes with a finely tuned sense of humor as well. He starts with “I have a dark and dreadful secret. I write poetry.”
Of course, he isn’t the only one. So do I. So do many of you. Fry writes, “This is an embarrassing confession for an adult to make.” (Makes me think that I should have put a “geek alert” on this article.) But he later suggests that “poetry is a primal impulse within us all.” Fry attempts, and generally succeeds, in convincing the reader that you should go ahead and write poetry, hell with the embarrassment, and that you should write the best poetry you are capable of. He is there to guide you.
While at times The Ode Less Travelled can seem a little too technical, keep at it, and write a poem or two. I specifically appreciate his use of successful poems to illustrate points. It’s a technique we all have used; that is, trying to emulate those whom we admire. With that in mind, I offer the poem below. (I wrote it while teaching seventeenth-century poets and long before reading Fry’s useful book, but illustrative I think of his suggestion.) See if you can guess the famous poet, and poem, that inspired the technical aspects of “If I Were A Younger Man Unmarried.” (The person to whom it was written will of course forever remain a secret.)
If I Were A Younger Man Unmarried
If I were a younger man unmarried
without beautiful son and loving wife
a future having already arrived
and youthful dreams turned to life
Then your disarrayed crooks of hair
and your brown eyes against the blonde
your shortness of step and cosmic flair,
all things of which I am fond
Would move me beyond admiration from afar.
I'd joke and I'd laugh and act like a fool.
I'd say, "Hey look! A falling star!"
On a misty night, you couldn't see me drool.
But I've seen meteors across the sky
and who's to say we'd want it done?
If we could fool time, you and I,
would it be fun to meet the morning sun?
Answer: Andrew Marvell (1621-1678), To His Coy Mistress, Lines 41-46.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
The first two lines, however, may be more likely to jar a few memories:
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime