I might find another dog. Maybe next year, after I’ve finished with this year’s therapist, done with all that talking about the unsuccessful talking I’ve done with other people, maybe I’ll be stripped down to just walking or sitting and saying Good dog! There’s a kind of immortality to my dreams and it feels like those so-called eternal moments when dreaming I am running and laughing with Rusty or Fiona, good dogs, good dogs, loyal and loving, or at least I believe in it being real, tangible, reliable, and it occurs to me maybe I’ve failed in that kind of willingness to believe when it comes to humans. When the heart dies it’s a foreboding riddle, when the brain dies it’s Merry Christmas— everything distilled down to your childhood, be it happy or sad, peppermint or coal, and in yesterday’s session I remembered taking Rusty to the “home” my great grandmother had been remanded to when in 1972 she woke up in 1944 and liked it so much she stayed. Rusty understood boyhood, disliked my father, and instantly befriended Nano that afternoon. We sat with her for hours saying next to nothing, just hand holding and smiling. Later in the 70s I’d be wrecked by booze, acid, coke, merciless friends and lovers, and so-so-so many lies, so much smack talk, back talk, back stabs and cash grabs, and I paid less attention to Rusty, then he died and I got confused, climbed a mountain, laid in the cold wet grass alone to sleep for years and years— at last got up, descended, looked for some river to float down. I found a stray, called her Fiona! She adopted me and next thing you know I stopped talking and found a human who said I love you. I was with Fiona while she died and told her I’ve told you everything I could never tell anyone, and she knew, she knew. Said none of this to my therapist. Maybe next year will be the year, another year of silence with a one-man dog.
Michael Dwayne Smith haunts many literary houses, most recently Gargoyle, Sheila-Na-Gig, ONE ART, Third Wednesday, as well as The Cortland Review, Chiron Review, Monkeybicycle, Heavy Feather Review, New World Writing, and Anti-Heroin Chic. Author of three books, and a multiple-time Pushcart Prize/Best of the Net nominee, he lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his family and rescued horses. His latest full-length poetry collection goes from apparition to publication late '23-early '24.