Puppy Love

comments 29

Hafiz picked me up
and drove me out into the countryside,
aiming the right front tire
for every mud puddle he could find,
and filling the rearview mirror
with volley after volley of clay starbursts.

Then, much to the relief
of both my kidneys and
the vehicle’s suspension,
we came across a dog breeder
and popped in to say hello.
After a cup of tea
and a profound discussion
of canine nutrition,
she invited us to see the stock.
We stepped outside
and she whistled like an old school
basketball coach.
All the little pups came running.
They lined up in a row
and plopped down on their
well-trained haunches,
head up, chest out, and eyes wide.
As we went down the line
they smiled ear to ear
like they couldn’t stand it anymore
and made puppy growls and yips
and bounced in place or fell over sideways
and licked our hands and knee caps
and lifted their front paws to touch us
and whined with the delight of being near
and created a small dust storm
with their flapping tails
until our own hearts felt like
they were going to burst.

But then there was one
down on the end, off to the side,
with narrow eyes like chiseled stone,
fixed and unmoving,
like he was a sentry posted
outside of Caesar’s spear closet.
He wore a mask with an elastic strap
to which there was attached
a tiny, pointed granite beak.
Also a harness from which there hung
a pair of wing-like contraptions.
His tail was hidden by a fan
of discarded feathers from various songbirds,
and he made little high-pitched squeals
out of the side of his mouth
the way a ventriloquist would,
from which I intuited the muffled cries
of a would-be falcon.

The owner shrugged her shoulders
and made a dismissive wave of her hand.
There’s one in every litter, she explained.

I wanted so badly to tell this one
about all of the beauty and promise
I saw behind that macabre ensemble of props,
how there was so much joy hidden behind that mask,
but when I put my compassionate hand close
to touch his head, he made one of those squeaks
I was just mentioning to you
and then tried to peck a hole through me
with the business end of that strap-on beak.

Hafiz leaned in to whisper something in my ear.

Don’t even say it, I said,
still smarting from the little bastard’s assault,
holding up my hand like a traffic cop,
and thinking of smacking Hafiz one
right in the shoulder
if he got any closer
with that ha-ha twinkle in his eye.
I know I know… I said…
(rolling my eyes)…
that’s how I look
to the Beloved when I go around all day
acting like a very serious man.

He chuckled.

What I was going to say, he offered,
is that falcons don’t particularly enjoy
being patted on the head,
but you might offer him a piece
of this bloody steak instead.

So I did.

He flipped his toy beak up
like a jeweler’s lens
and pecked the meat right down,
then went back to his
razor-like vision,
though unable to totally suppress
a devilish twitch of his tail.

On the way home
Hafiz put the top down
and our newfound friend sat in the backseat
on a stack of old books
with his tongue dangling in the breeze
and his wings cranked out either side
to their maximum extents,
their pasted on feathers shimmying in the wind,
his eyes wide and watery,
and in his heart…
he was



    • Hi Brad,

      Boy do we! We’ve all got a few holy appurtenances, masks, and high performance sportswear products we’ve picked up along the way. And yes, the potential is always in there for flight…! This one was interesting because when I started describing the odd dog on the end I had it in my mind to make the connection to seeing how ridiculous it looked, and how crazy we are sometimes trying to be something we’re not. But after the words actually came out, I realized I loved that little dog for wanting those wings, and it turned into something far better… My favorite part of writing is that it is truly a process of discovery, or at least it can be…


      Liked by 2 people

  1. footloosedon says

    Oh Michael,

    You have such a lovely way with words. My tongue is lolling out, my eyes are watering, and I’m flying, even though the wings I’m wearing might not be real.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Don, my friend, what can I say. Thank you! This one was really interesting for me, because it took kind of a direction all its own. I think we do our best to get the wings if that is what we feel called to do, and Love takes care of the rest… The key, maybe, is not to get too hung up on the wings themselves… Or any form our dreams seem to take originally… Which I would typically do… Much better to see the raw beauty that gives rise to them… 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the story of children growing up, the story of young men growing old, the story of inflated egos deflating, the story of one small being deciding to be something entirely different, or rather of this being manifesting a lesser known, but equally legitimate part of itself.

    I watch children, naive and open and playful, try out being clever and fierce, bigger and dominating.
    I watch old men leaving behind dominating and bigger for mischief and interesting masks; the allowance of that which is different, because at a certain age, with sufficient bellies and wrinkles, they stopped caring what other people thought, or even what their own brains had to say.

    I see Hafiz telling us it is ok to try something on for size, to have an experience, the ego along with self judgement are irrelevant, so long as we approach our experience with an element of play.

    And my very favorite part of this whole piece, is the allowing, the supporting, the light hearted playing, the accepting, and of course, the flying.

    Coincidentally, I was just looking at a funny picture of a wiener dog garden sculpture; he is flying with a red cape and mask. Kind of a long story, but his picture has been sitting on my bedroom altar since yesterday. He is very special to me.

    May the force of the flying dog be with you my friend.

    Not sure if this will work, but here he is …. http://img1.findgift.com/Graphics/Gifts/250/711/PR_326711.jpg

    Liked by 7 people

    • The link came through, Andrea. A very fitting image for this one!

      I love your responses to this, and what you saw in it. I see very similar things. The effort to say something that has long been in the heart, that maybe we don’t quite have the tools to say in the beginning, just needs to find a way into the world. I like especially what you said about the ego’s irrelevance. Following our calling without the ego renders it harmless and always full of something viable and genuine. Who cares if the parts came from the attic, or Home Depot, or Crate & Barrel??? It’s that element of play through which something genuine emerges.

      I receive with gratitude the force of the flying dog. This soaring, playful four-legged seems to be lending us both the strength of his holy play these days. It is a good energy to fly with!


      Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on Fiesta Estrellas and commented:
    Hi Michael,
    Beautiful poem. Interesting story that I’ve (we’ve) been thinking about getting a puppy. Of course, it’s just that desire to continue filling the space with love, I guess. Met my first neighbor-friend yesterday and it seems with some of the newest friends I’ve made lately; we just talk about dogs. I don’t know if this really happened to you or is just creative expression of all the happenings; but your poem reminds me of all the dogs I’ve ever loved; and that it’s very much in my thought-process, even when it’s least likely to happen. Love the new blog layout.
    Love, Ka

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Hariod. As I was telling Brad, this nearly came out as something slightly different, but the beauty of letting one another to their nature be trumped. I think it can be a fine line… Sometimes the desires are a servant of the false selves, and we defend them even though they may be obvious shams. As an observer, I might feel a sadness in seeing this, as if someone isn’t dreaming big enough… As if they might have latched onto a concept way too small for what is truly within them. But then the other side of this line is a sort of beautiful/playful ignoring of the world’s limitations, an insistence the world doesn’t get to have the last say. It is more like the following of an instinct into who one is at least for that moment, and it can illuminate any setting, regardless of odd the props that happen to be laying around may seem. We can often get them confused I think. I nearly did, writing this piece!


      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh Michael ! ….I love it ! You are the poet storyteller of the dream world , so brilliantly thought out and heart felt with a loud staccato note for an ending ( the falcon – dogs beginning ) … I’m going to read it again now ! …love you , megxxx

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Meg! I love our shared affinity for sprinkling in falcons from time to time… The heart is a glorious space in which to fly. Especially when Hafiz is driving… 🙂 Love you, too–


      Liked by 2 people

  5. Your imagination knows no bounds.. “He wore a mask with an elastic strap to which there was attached a tiny, pointed granite beak. Also a harness from which there hung a pair of wing-like contraptions. His tail was hidden by a fan of discarded feathers from various songbirds,
    and he made little high-pitched squeals out of the side of his mouth the way a ventriloquist would,
    from which I intuited the muffled cries of a would-be falcon.”

    Brilliantly metamorphosed 🙂 Michael..

    Blessings Sue

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you very much, Sue. It’s funny, but writing this section is what completely changed my experience of this piece. I had thought I was going to show something ridiculous, and have Hafiz point out gently or humorously the ways we too often make a mockery of what we’ve been given by trying to be something we’re not, but once you bring the puppy energy into it and the earnestness of a being seeking to be who they desire to be, it became something more powerful instead. Something to be respected and nurtured. So, I learned something writing this one…


      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Eye of O. Much appreciated. I loved your recent post re writing a novel, “I can’t tell if it’s killing me or it’s making me stronger.” After a few near death experiences, I have an un-edited manuscript rather crudely fashioned, of the requisite length… Now it feels like it makes us stronger… 🙂


      Liked by 2 people

      • Perhaps the title: it almost killed me and it made me stronger?

        I’m joking.
        But I do believe in nde experiences, and I’m happy you’re sharing. It sounds like it will be an honest to the core project. I like those. And I’m happy that you are continuing to work towards your finished project. The editing stage was, for me, more challenging than the writing. Not to discourage you. Perhaps it will be easier for you. Though the whole process of writing a book is the ultimate battle with the self.
        ***I am writing with the assumption this is your first book***
        However, even starting the novel, and sticking with it to the point you have is quite the accomplishment. As you understand from your comments.
        Stay strong through the editing. And then edit again. And then let people you trust see it. And then edit again. 🙂 and don’t stop until you’re reasonably happy with the book. Dont
        give up, no matter how hard it gets. Because each time you finish a newer version you will feel much stronger.
        Sidenote: a book is never truly done. It’s born. When you feel pretty awesome about it, to the point you’re confident enough in the work that criticism can’t crush the project or your hopes for it, then you’re ready!!
        Good luck. And godspeed.
        Please keep us updated on your process and your results.

        O and om 🐱

        Wasn’t sure of this is your first book, so I’m advising as of it were.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you, Eye-O,

          It is a first book, and I much appreciate your thoughts and support offered here. I have had the feeling of late that completing a first draft was going to be like reaching the false summit, at which time the full nature of the mountain comes into view. It is benevolent of reality to usher us along in stages like this… Editing words and grammar is one thing, but re-writing entire sections so as to actually try and retroactively incorporate elements such as plot and character seems a bit more challenging. I think it is just a shift in mindset.

          If nothing else, it will be honest! I think the beauty of this for me was the relinquishment of the battle with the self in the sense that I just gave myself permission to write what I write, however trite or cliche’d or simplistic it seemed at the time. Otherwise, I’d have gotten nowhere perhaps. So, this freedom of getting the self out of the way is probably very much what you termed a battle. We’ll see where it goes from here.

          It is my longest running romantic relationship with a project, and it is teaching me regardless of any other outcomes.

          I’ll keep you posted!
          Thank you again–

          Liked by 2 people

  6. How incredibly uplifting, very sensory narrative…I’m going to go with “there’s one in every crowd”. I like that. I like that a lot! Peace bro’ H.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It’s all enough to send *me* flying. And chuckling. Out loud.
    I love your new friend. There’s one in every litter! More than one I suspect. Don and I have both long ago acknowledged that we are odd ducks, and have come to rejoice in our odd-duckedness 🙂
    Alison xox

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Alison,

      Thank you for sharing your reaction with me. Yes, there is one in every litter- including the litter of voices in my own head and heart… Perhaps down the road he’ll enjoy a little more commonality with his brothers and sisters, but there is a time for reunion, and a time for the holy differentiation of following the vision you were given… I think we should rejoice in them both… It’s good to know I’m in such good company as a member of the odd-duck tribe… ❤


      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ellen! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I found all sorts of human natures in exploring this one. It was fun!



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