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Rodd Whelpley

Hiding from the Puppy

Scouting Report

Hiding from the Puppy

The little Golden terror is revved too hot. This,
I should have known after the 4:00 a.m. potty break,
when he wouldn’t settle in the crate beside the bed.

Forty-two minutes you and I have lain beside each other,
still, silenced by the howling gusts and growls. I hate
myself always surrendering to you. This time, you said,

not an aging rescue; not too soon another morning staring
at pained cataract eyes, those fortune-teller crystals, to read
a fate – a necessary kindness – no loyal friend can understand. 

The books are unequivocal. To correctly train a young one,
we need to win this battle in the night. But my fight is more
with you. How will I explain to normal people? After

thirty years, six jobs, two mortgages, a child: this caged whelp  
spells the terms of our divorce. I reach – find the smoothness
that’s your shoulder, recall the softness of your body everywhere,

understand this is the last night for a decade that you will sleep
beside me. From now on, half-awake, I will reach for you again
and grasp the wooly fur of this new dog, snoring hard between us.

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Scouting Report

I thought of you, just inside the house
drying dinner dishes, the new pup

and I on a neighborhood patrol,
one of many daily, because his bladder

and attention span are short. Here
is the intelligence we’ve gathered.

Mr. Thompson’s closed garage is full
of bangs: He’s on the hammer stage

of  fashioning a set of drawers. The Snyder’s
dog is on new feed. I’m guessing

from our puppy’s sniffs. And two blocks down
we learned Tommy LOVES Juanita

from a spring-like blossom scrawled on
the sidewalk, amidst the loopy artwork

and odd-shaped hopscotch squares.
It will all be gone tomorrow, sure as

rain will come, certain as Thompson
will move on to curlicue a sideboard.

After thirty years, I know the history
of us is somewhere indispensable,     

tucked in public records or fibered on the atria
of hearts. Even so, as our naughty dog

tugged his lead, I ferreted the dusky grass
for the brilliant brick of chalk I hoped a child

had left behind. I confess I need your name
on every surface for as long as it may last. 

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Rodd Whelpley manages an electric efficiency program for 32 cities across Illinois and lives near Springfield. His poems have appeared in numerous journals. His chapbooks include Catch as Kitsch Can (2018), The Last Bridge is Home (2021) and Whoever Said Love (coming in 2022). Find him at, on Facebook (Rodd Whelpley) or Twitter (@RoddWhelpley).

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