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Barking Dogs

ISSUE:  Spring 1980
Early one Hattiesburg night,
the moon hardly dry from
the swampbottom, the beer
already half-gone and sleep
six hours off, the kid changes
into her tutu and tap shoes
and sings Sewanee with the dogs
by the light of the high beam.

We go wild. Even the baby,
nude as a Junebug, tattoos
out a step. The kid bows,
pennies ring on the flagstone.
She sings the last verse
to the record cover of her
accompaniment where sit
four terriers on blue stools

in bow ties, each a coloratura.
The kid says they go to a special
school and eat only honey. Oh, no,
someone uninvited says, helping
himself to another beer.
You just speed up a tape
and compose a scale. No dog
reads the notes bone by bone.

The kid cries and runs off.
But we weren’t going anywhere.
The mosquitoes had revved up
in the few seconds she’d saved
from speech. What more
for entertainment—a coon
chained to the barbecue,
a quarrel?


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