Liberty, Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Anydog Lived in a Bowwow House, by Jessica Swaim
What the Dog Perhaps Hears, Lisel Mueller
Inner Strength, Anonymous
What We Love, Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Dharma, Billy Collins
How Is It With Us, and How It Is With Them, Mary Oliver
Love Dogs, Rumi
Verse For A Certain Dog, Dorothy Parker
Ridiculous, Alicia Suskin Ostriker
The Odyssey, Book 17:260-327, Homer
The Power of the Dog, Rudyard Kipling
April, Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Walking the Dog, Howard Nemerov
Percy Wakes Me, Mary Oliver
Epitaph to a Dog, Lord Byron
In Every Life, Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Fetch, Tony Hoagland

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A Dog Has Died, Pablo Neruda (excerpts) (translated by Alfred Yankauer)
Where is the Door to God, Hafiz
Dog, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Oracle of the Dog, Vincent Starrett
To Flush, My Dog, Elizabeth Barrett Browning


by Alicia Suskin Ostriker*

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Anydog Lived In a Bowwow House
by Jessica Swaim, with apologies to E.E. Cummings

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What The Dog Perhaps Hears
by Lisel Mueller

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Inner Strength

If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook when people take things out on you when, through
no fault of yours, something is wrong,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can do all these things,
Then you are probably the family dog.


What We Love
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker

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by Billy Collins

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How It Is With Us, and How It Is With Them
by Mary Oliver

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Love Dogs
by Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks

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Verse For a Certain Dog
by Dorothy Parker

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by Alicia Suskin Ostriker

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The Odyssey, Book 17:260-327
by Homer

Summary: When Odysseus arrives, heavily disguised, at his old home in Ithaka after a twenty-year absence, only his old dog recognizes him.

As they spoke, a dog who was lying there lifted his head
and pricked up his ears. It was Argos, Odysseus’ dog;
he had trained him and brought him up as a puppy, but never
hunted with him before he sailed off to Troy.
In earlier times the young men had taken him out
with them to hunt for wild goats and deer and hares,
but he had grown old in his master’s absence, and now
he lay abandoned on one of the heaps of mule
and cattle dung that piled up outside the front gates
until the farmhands could come by and cart it off
to manure the fields. And so the dog Argos lay there,
covered with ticks. As soon as he was aware
of Odysseus, he wagged his tail and flattened his ears,
but he lacked the strength to get up and go to his master.
Odysseus wiped a tear away, turning aside
to keep the swineherd from seeing it, and he said,
“Eumaeus, it is surprising that such a dog,
of such quality, should be lying here on a dunghill.
He is a beauty, but I can’t tell if his looks
were matched by his speed or if he was one of those pampered
able dogs, which are kept around just for show.”

Then, in response to his words, Eumaeus, you said,
“This is the dog of a man who died far away.
If he were now what he used to be when Odysseus
left and sailed off to Troy, you would be astonished
at his power and speed. No animal could escape him
in the deep forest once he began to track it.
What an amazing nose he had! But misfortune
has fallen upon him now that his master is dead
in some far-distant land, and the women are all too thoughtless
to take any care of him. Servants are always like that:
when their masters aren’t right there to give them their orders,
they slack off, get lazy, and no longer do an honest
day’s work, for Zeus almighty takes half the good
out of a man on the day he becomes a slave.”

With these words he entered the palace and went to the hall
where the suitors were assembled at one of their banquets.
And just then death came and darkened the eyes of Argos,
who had seen Odysseus again after twenty years.


The Power of the Dog
by Rudyard Kipling

THERE is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie—
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find—it’s your own affair—
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long—
So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?


by Alicia Suskin Ostriker

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Walking the Dog
by Howard Nemerov

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Percy Wakes Me
by Mary Oliver

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Epitaph to a Dog
by Lord Byron

When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth,
Unknown to Glory, but upheld by Birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below.
When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonoured falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the Soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well, must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy tongue hypocrisy, thy heart deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who behold perchance this simple urn,
Pass on – it honours none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one — and here he lies.


In Every Life
by Alicia Suskin Ostiker

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by Tony Hoagland

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*  This poem and the other poems by this poet are from her collection.  The Old Woman, the Tulip and the Dog.