with thanks to Karen Workun who invited a quick write today for #verselove at Ethical ELA. The idea is to brainstorm “secret areas of expertise,” choosing one to spin into a poem.
This is dedicated to Dennis. Again.
For Day Twenty-Seven of National Poetry Month
Lapland they say is an icy enchanted region where the northern lights color-play in the sky and where the only official Santa actually lives but here in my house I am Lapland to a ten-pound cream-coated chocolate-nosed dachshund who will NOT stop hopping by my chair until he successfully springs into my lap or until I scoop him up whichever comes first and where he settles in to snooze with blissful rhythmic surprisingly loud dog-snores for as long as I’ll let him which is usually until my leg goes completely numb from his tiny deadweight yet still I sit absorbing his mighty warmth like a recharging of life for the day and should I have to get up and walk to get the blood flowing again in my poor numb leg he trails me with glistening brown doe-eyes beseeching the reappearance of his cozy enchanted Lapland for the sweet dreaming of his little dog dreams
with thanks to Barb Edler who posted the prompt for #VerseLove on Ethical ELA: “Consider the challenges you’ve overcome, the celebrations you can rejoice, the way you may miss something that you never realized you missed”…as inspiration for a “things I didn”t know I loved” poem.
When I returned to college later in life, after having had a family, I was asked to write an essay on “My Most Memorable Teacher.” I’d never thought about this before and was unprepared to write on the teacher who came immediately to mind…but I did write.
I had to.
On Day Nine of National Poetry Month, I give it to you in poem form.
For Mrs. Cooley
You terrified me, you know looming large an immovable mountain in pearls and heels casting your dark shadow over my fourth-grade days
The topography of your years etched deep on your face your eagle eyes piercing my very existence
The fear and trembling of math drills— Dear Lord save me from subtraction!— I look up and there it is in your expression: You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip
I did not know that many years later when I’d be asked to write of my most memorable teacher that you’d spring to mind clear as day overshadowing all others
and that what I’d recall is how you read Charlotte’s Web to the class
I did not know I could love a spider so
and then how you read us Old Yeller
My God my God I almost died with that dog
I did not know that you were the one who made me love reading for there is a difference in being able to and it being the air you breathe
I could not believe how worried you were when I fell on the playground that day how you cradled my distorted left arm all the way to the office and waited with me ‘til Daddy came
I never dreamed you’d come see me at home when I had to stay in bed propped with pillows ice bag on my cast
I saw you and the tears came— I am missing the last two weeks of school I won’t pass the fourth grade
I did not know you could CHUCKLE that your sharp blue eyes could go so soft and watery and I never heard that phrase before: flying colors you pass with flying colors
Would you believe I am a teacher now it isn’t what I planned but here I am
I never knew until Daddy told me years ago that you’d passed how much I’d long to see you again to ask you a thousand things maybe even to laugh
but more than anything to thank you with all my heart
so I do that now in hopes that you and Charlotte and Old Yeller know that my love lives on
Photo: Girl reading. Pedro Ribeiro Simðes. CC BY – reminds me of young me
Thanks also to Tabatha Yeatts for hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup
I’ve been waiting and waiting for the world to know about me!
The world SHOULD know about me! The world NEEDS to know about me!
Here are a few reasons why!
No. 1: My “Me” Acrostic!
(I live and breathe this every day! It’s who I am!)
Determined! Energetic! Ninja-like (only when sneaking socks)! Nosey (hey, I’m a hound who’s gotta know all)! Incredible (IMHO)! Spirited!
Most of all, I love to have FUN FUN FUN…which reminds me of my namesake!
No. 2: My Namesake!
He was a famous drummer! I should be famous! My heart is drumming like mad all the time! Maybe you have heard of Dennis Wilson? We even look EXACTLY ALIKE!
Mirror, mirror, on the wall Who’s the fairest Dennis of all?
Well, gosh, that’s easy – ME!
And, not only am I named for a famous drummer, I do great impressions!
No. 3: Dobby!
A sock, a sock my soul for a sock!
—um, you all know Harry Potter, right? Didja notice how the border in my portrait goes diagonally? Get it? Diagon Alley? Get it? Get it?
Oh, never mind!
I should also be a model for other famous books!
No. 4: Modeling for Children’s Lit!
Here I have A Bad Case of Stripes!
Actually, not bad, surely just a very warm and cozy case of stripes!
Warm and cozy sunny, dozy just dream dream dream but not of Camilla Cream…
Hey! I AM CREAM!…but don’t call me Camilla!
Lastly, I am part of a wildly popular decorating craze!
No. 5: Best. Christmas. Decoration. EVER!
—yikes, that’s all I’ve got time for, I hear a car in the driveway, gotta go, gotta know…! One last thing before I dash off:
I wish you happiness I wish you joy I wish you sun-striped dreams And all your favorite things And safety ’til this 2020 pox is past And a dox upon your house, at last!
—Or, one in your lap, at least!
Thanks for stopping by and getting to know me! You can’t say your world isn’t a tiny bit brighter!
Y’all come back soon, hear?
Dennis is a light in my family’s life for sure, sparking lots of laughter with his lively antics. He’s a one-year-old cream dachshund belonging to my youngest son, a musician and lifelong Beach Boys fan.We brought Dennis home as a tiny puppy (3 lbs.) last December. Here’s to all the dogs that brighten our days...thanks for (hopefully) savoring some silliness and wordplay here.
Thanks also to the amazing Poetry Friday poets and to Buffy Silverman for hosting the Roundup.
From the pen—um, keyboard, rather—of a favorite guest paw-thor who has his own category here on Lit Bits and Pieces…
Dear, Dear Readers,
It has been far too long since we last communed.
So much has changed.
Where to begin?
Nearly one year ago, my Him ushered Me to a new home with new—how shall I say it?— Beings. A new Her. And a little Her. And two dogs, imagine.
Predictions were made. It was said by Some that I wouldn’t be happy. That I wouldn’t adapt. That I might lash out, because, Some stated, it is the nature of My kind, for We cannot be trusted…
That is where Some make the fatal error, see.
They commit assumicide.
They do not walk in My paws. They do not see with My eyes, do not feel the rhythms of My heart.
Sure, I am—I confess—a bit of a worrier who needs a dab of reassurance here and there.
—Okay, okay, My Him says “constant” reassurance, but.
I have reached a place of peace. A higher state of being.
—Right? I know you’re asking how that’s even possible, with My obvious preexisting highness! But it is true.
This, Dear, Dear Readers, is My secret.
It isn’t found in chasing rabbits. Trust Me, there are too many to catch. More will come to taunt you tomorrow. Not worth it…
It isn’t in staying in the same comfortable place ad infinitum, but in trusting, even when it leads you to somewhere very different.
It is always, always in People, even a small One who moves quite erratically and unnervingly yet drapes Herself around Your neck whilst murmuring “I love you” (I think of Her as my living necklace. My medal of honor. I wear Her with pride. Even as I tolerate Her plunking on a ukulele in excruciating proximity. Whatever happened to lyres, I ask You—?).
It is in learning to tolerate—nay, make friends with!—creatures that breathe the same air and share the same space… it is easier than Some might think. In fact, when all the Two-Leggers are out, those dogs and I have free rein (I prefer ‘reign’) over the dwelling. My old crate, My old safe place, has been disassembled. I need it no more, for now I am never alone, and accordingly feel no need to be “destructive” (although I occasionally recall the flavor of a good book cover with much fondness. Alas.).
Above all, this higher state is achieved in spending every possible moment with The One You Love Best (in My case, Him) which I have done more than ever since last spring, these moments, these days, the joy of My existence.
I wish it to last forever and ever, Amen.
But for now I will simply bask in it for as long as I can, togetherness.
So, from My perch here on the new couch I’ve claimed as My own personal seat of dominion, right beside Him’s desk where He works, I leave you, Dear, Dear Readers, with My perfect picture of peace.
May such be upon you and yours as well.
(Henry Rollins Haley)
To sleep, perchance to dream… of more love to give on waking. Noble beast, Pit sublime, in his state of bliss.
Many thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge honoring writers, writing, perspective, and voice.
In late February, we had our only snow this winter.
I woke in the morning to find the sun shining through the crape myrtle I planted when we first moved here. Ice crystals glittered on the tree limbs like a thousand prisms—tiny, brilliant rainbow lights. I took a picture. When I looked at the image, the word that came to mind was holy.
Maybe it was the brightness of the sun. The reaching ray of light. The purity of snow. The hush, the stillness. Just a sense of divine glory, of peace.
And then I noticed where that sunbeam ended.
Oh, how I recalled, in that instant, first reading Where the Red Fern Grows whenI was around ten years old. It tore my heart out. I wept for weeks. A dog story, of course. And hardship, love, and sacrifice. Wilson Rawls wrote:
I had heard the old Indian legend about the red fern. How a little Indian boy and girl were lost in a blizzard and had frozen to death. In the spring, when they were found, a beautiful red fern had grown up between their two bodies. The story went on to say that only an angel could plant the seeds of a red fern, and that they never died; where one grew, that spot was sacred.
That’s when the boy, Billy, finds a red fern growing between the graves of his two dogs.
Look where my sunbeam ends.
Directly over the grave of my family’s little dachshund, Nik, who was with us for sixteen years. That’s his memorial statue rising up from the snow.
A good dog is one of life’s greatest gifts. Today’s post is dedicated to Rin, my husband’s childhood pet.
It is late. I am thinking about you sleeping upstairs. I wish I could get up there like I used to; I feel I should be near you tonight.
But I content myself with knowing that you are here and safe.
I think about the first time I saw you.
There you came with your mom and dad, looking at all my brothers and sisters at the place where we were born. As soon as I saw you, I knew: That is my Boy. That is my Boy. I ran straight to you, your arms went around me, and that was the moment we began. How excited you were to give me my name. Rin Tin Tin, you said. He was famous and you look just like him!
I was just happy because you were happy.
Do you remember taking me to classes? I do. How proud I was to learn what you wanted, to make you so pleased with me.
I’d do anything for you, my Boy. I hope you know.
I remember that bad time when I was still a very young dog and you were so sad. When your dad left for work and never came back. I knew you were hurting and afraid; that’s why I stayed so close. I gave you all the comfort I knew how, the warmth of my body, the occasional lick for reassurance. I watched you while you slept in case you woke and needed me.
You’re my everything, Boy. You always were.
Remember how you’d throw a stick for me to fetch, over and over and over, because I never got tired of it? How I miss that! I will still fetch for you, Boy, if you would only let me. That’s why I keep finding sticks and bringing them to you even though I understand you don’t want me to run. I know I am slow and yes, it hurts my old hip—but it is what we do. It is what we always did. So much fun, so much joy. If I could have fit your basketball in my mouth all those hours and days and weeks and years you were out on the backyard court, I’d have played that with you, too. But it was enough for me just to run beside you.
Perhaps tonight I will dream of those days, when we ran and ran and you got tired but I never did. I am tired now. I want you to know that whatever comes, Boy, I would do it all again. Every bit of it.
You’re my life, Boy. I love you so.
Now I lay me down to sleep. I’ll wait for you in the morning.
On the morning after the Boy and I got married, his mother found Rin unresponsive. He’d had a stroke. He died later that day at the vet’s office.
He was thirteen.
—I’ve always believed you knew that you finished your job, Rin. You saw the Boy safely off to his adult life on the last day of your own. Thank you, Rin Tin Tin, good and faithful servant, for giving him your all.
Heartfelt thanks to each of you for joining Me this week as I mark another year of being alive.
Yes—it is My birthday!
Or—ahem—at least it’s the annual day set aside for marking this monumental occasion, as I was projected to be approximately thirteen months old when I inherited the kingdom over which I currently rule. Thus saith the veterinarian to My Family when I was … er … adopted as a … (sigh) … foundling.
Which by no means affects My jurisdiction, mind you, nor My inalienable rights.
Speaking of which: As We share the same birth month, I felt that I could afford to be magnanimous to the United States of America by donning a bit of stars and stripes. I assure you that this is not an attempt to throw the nation a bone, as it were, nor to outshine any festivities:
Although I am looking quite glorious for five years of age, don’t you agree?
Let Me just say that while My Family is busy celebrating the paramount importance of My birth, I am truly and humbly grateful for every minute that I live. Indeed, I spend the whole of my existence, every minute of every day, asleep as well as awake, attempting to convey the indescribable magnitude of My love for them. I can scarcely keep it from bursting forth from My exceptionally big heart, with every single beat.
They are, after all, My People. Who dwell in My home.
Our relationship is one of complete mutuality (as long as I am patted and scratched for the length of time I deem to be appropriate, and as long as I am provided with delectable morsels at exceedingly regular intervals).
With proper obeisance shown Me (and ONLY Me), all remains peaceful here in Our tiny realm.
And so it is no wonder that an artist was inspired to capture My likeness on canvas, as befits one Who reigns supreme. I therefore give you this portrait in commemoration of My birthday, that you might henceforth hang it in your heart gallery alongside your own sovereign rulers:
Henry Rollins Haley. 2019. His fifth year.
*not His Royal Highness, although I can see how it would quite easily be inferred. This is America, remember? In the absence of a title—alas—I simply sign My monogram.
Off now to rest My aching toenails (how DO you Humans spend so much time on these atrocious devices??) and to locate Me a Person for snoozing against.
[Editor’s Note: For your convenience, Henry has archived all of his posts under the Henry Writes category. He says this will have to suffice until he has his own site, etc. ]
Henry maintains his own category, “Henry Writes,” on Lit Bits and Pieces.
Dear, dear Readers (if you are still out there, and haven’t abandoned Me, yet),
I write today out of great offense, so great that I can no longer keep silent.
Never did I see such a thing coming.
Never could I imagine a thing so, so—demeaning, so insulting.
I am, in fact, still in a state of utter disbelief.
I am not even sure I can bring Myself to voice it. My toenail trembles so against the keys as I type this that I continually have to backspace to correct My errors (if only My forepaws had the span and flexibility of People’s! What I could accomplish if I could use more than one toe at a time!).
I have been told [—shudder!—] that I am . . . I am . . .
So said the veterinarian immediately upon entering the exam room at my last check-up. The very first words out of her mouth: “How much are you feeding him? He’s going to have to drop some pounds.”
She didn’t even pet Me first, and I have such gloriously silky fur.
My dignity is not merely in shreds. It is entirely evaporated. Gone. Nonexistent.
It didn’t really matter what was done to Me after that, as I couldn’t care, so deep was My hurt. I figured My People would surely console Me with a TREAT when we got home, as I work hard to bring out their generous nature and their sympathy. If I am especially winsome, I can usually finagle two TREATS out of them.
But a most egregious fate awaited Me.
My breakfast and dinner were DRASTICALLY REDUCED and I got no TREATS for days! Then, at last, when I saw I was about to receive a TREAT, I momentarily lost My cool (quite striking) head and threw Myself into near-convulsions of ecstasy . . .
Readers, it was the size of a gnat. No, a flea.
This couldn’t possibly be a treat, this barely-existent bit of almost-air.
“Here you go, Boy,” said My She, “it’s just five calories! You can even have another!”
If you aren’t aware, Readers, two times nothing is still nothing.
I am, after all, a strapping, stunning creature in the absolute prime of My life; I give away all the joy and love My being can muster; I do not deserve this treatment.
All because a veterinarian questioned My weight.
I question the validity of that framed diploma in her office.
I will leave it to you, My dear, dear Readers—is this not the most appalling picture of injustice you’ve ever seen?
From the desk (so to speak) of Henry Rollins Haley (HRH), “pawthor” of the Henry Writes posts
[With right paw, adjusts laptop lid for best camera angle. Commences typing with one foreclaw]
Hello again, at last.
It’s been a while, has it not?
I’ve not forgotten you.
It’s just that I SO RARELY get screen time.
Can you see me—?
Because I can see you.
And, frankly, I’m worried. A lot.
You seem tired. Tense. Does your head hurt? Your bones? Your heart?
Something does. I sense it.
It makes me anxious.
Not for myself.
See, I have this innate, overwhelming, all-consuming need for everything to be okay, and it can’t be, if you are not okay.
I have no alternative but to dispel this disequilibrium. I am utterly compelled to restore a balance of Well-Being and Goodwill, for, otherwise, I simply cannot cope.
I’m unable to speak this, as you know. I must communicate via the only means I have.
Fortunately, I can type . . . .
But better still, I come as close as possible to you. I wait for you to see me. To acknowledge me, welcome me, invite me. Give me a sign. Then I will offer you my questing paw, my nudging nose, the long, velvety-warm magnificence of Me, custom-made for absorbing your sadness, your tears, your aches, your angst, so that they melt deep and far away, into insignificance, to irrelevance, nearly to nonexistence.
My gift is calm. My presence, peace. Your being, my being.
And so I wait and watch, hoping, hoping, forever hoping. Can you see it in my eyes?