The Dog That Howled All Night

A poem by Geoffrey Heptonstall


“What does not change is the will to change.”

– Charles Olson


Of a possible election:
then in the sight of darkness
a lantern light
moving to close of day
above all the armadillos
from the vantage tower
in celestial time chiming…

Of the harvest angel
scattering our marvels
at the sight of disaster
naming where the stones
keep silence on vacant ground
when fate may seem indifferent
though this life is familiar…

Of a lyrical persuasion:
invisible in the ruins
too late to save the spirit
that blessed the city opening
to the world’s worst
and in there hearing
the dog that howled all night…

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Religious

A poem by Gale Acuff


When my dog dies I hold a funeral
for him, but when nobody’s looking, so
I won’t be embarrassed at taking life
so seriously. I’m only seven
and shy anyway and he’s my dog so
I can do anything I want. It’s like

my birthday, or Christmas morning, or good
grades on my report card. I’m not happy,
of course, that he’s dead, Caesar, I mean. No
sir: I cried when I found him so and he
didn’t move when I called him and called him,
not even when I poked him with a stick
right in the ribs, where he should have felt it.
I screamed like a girl, too, to see his face
looking alive but being not—his eyes
open and looking—at what?—and his mouth
agape and his tongue out, just like panting,
which kind of figures because he did that
when he was hot or tired or both and now
he’s dead and that’s like being hot and tired
beyond how panting could ever help. I

run to the house and find Father in
front of the TV and Game of the Week
and a Schlitz in his grip and I yell, Hey,
Father, Father, Caesar can’t move and I
think he’s dead. Hurry! He puts the brew down
on the table and misses the coaster
and he’ll catch it if Mother finds out and
he follows me out though I’m way ahead
and waiting about a yard from Caesar
when he gets there—Father, I mean. Well, well,
he says—I still mean Father—for pity’s
sake
, he says. He’s gone, sure ‘nough. I’m crying
now and he says, Father says, Don’t take on
so, boy, but let’s go get the wheelbarrow
and shovel
, so we walk, side by side, to
the barn, not that we own any livestock
anymore, and get what we need. Then we
come back. I watch Father lift Caesar in

-to the wheelbarrow. Soon we’re rolling, down
through the garden and onto the terrace
below. Let’s see where we can put him, boy,
he says. We find a good spot near the pines.
I start to dig but he takes the shovel
and says, Better let me get it started,
so he cuts through the grass and weeds and
lets me dig some and then he digs what’s left.
He lifts Caesar out of the wheelbarrow
and into the hole—the grave, I mean—and
my job’s to pile all the dirt and grass and
weeds back in. And I never see my friend
again, but that’s death for you, also life,
so maybe they’re really the same thing, but

I’m still a little boy and Father knows
the truth and I’d ask him but I don’t want
to make a pest out of myself—he works
hard and it’s Saturday and he’s missing
the baseball game on the tube. And his beer.
Well, that’s that, he says, when we’ve finished. He
was a pretty good ol’ dog
, he says. Yes,
I say. Well, I’ll go in now, I guess. You
come soon, you mind?
He says it as if there’s
something to be afraid of out here but
he’s not going to question my courage,
not at a time like this. God does that, too,
I guess. So after he leaves I don’t know
what to do, exactly, but cry some more
and look at the flowers and trees around
us—I mean Caesar and me—then stare at
the grave, which is new, and death, which is old,
but no older than life, I’ll bet. I sing

Jesus Loves the Little Children, and say
a few words on top of that that I learned
off TV, something like Lord, this dog was
a good dog and please take him into Thy
bosom, whatever that means—I thought just
ladies had bosoms, but God is special
so anything’s possible. Now I’m scared
so I turn and run back to the house and

that night I dream that Caesar digs himself
out and comes into my bedroom and jumps
onto the bed and starts licking my face.
I wake and my face is wet—tears, not licks.
I cry a little more, or that’s whimpers,
the way Caesar did when he was a pup
and too small to jump on the bed and if
I lift him up there then he might fall off
or I might roll over him in my sleep
and squash him. So I got down on the floor
and slept there with him. And we were happy.

But the next day death is a day older
and so am I but it’s a day ahead
of me. One day it will slack up for me
but if Caesar can stand it, so can I.
Once you’re dead you live again, but for keeps,
is what they say at Church. I hope they’re wrong.


Gale Acuff is an assistant professor at the Arab American University in Palestine. He has taught English in the Palestinian West Bank, the U.S., and China. His poetry has been published in Ascent, the Ohio JournalDescant, Poem, the Adirondack Review, the Coe Review, the Worcester Review, the Maryland Poetry Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse Press, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse Press, 2008).

Bitchin’ Freeze

A short story by Maxine Kollar


I got a dog.

I didn’t want a dog.

It was fluffy and white and never barked. It just made a soft humming sound followed by a high-pitched sound. It sounded like a fan gathering speed but I never told it that.

All dogs going to heaven is a movie; well, a straight-to-DVD waste of time, but still. Not true.

This damned dog entered my world through a hole. He had torn the throat out of a boy named Adolf and had been sent here. It didn’t belong here. The boy named Adolf had continued on in another time and the dog couldn’t save the people. It tried. It was a good dog. You should get points for trying but this damned dog got hell for trying to save humanity from itself. A hole opened because there was a tug of war of sorts for its soul. Yes, it has a soul.

He was supposed to fall into the lake but I saw the fluff ball coming down and stuck out my hand and well, here we are.

How do you care for a dog in Hell? I wasn’t even sure what kind it was. Bitchin’ freeze?

“You know that animals know things that people never do,” said Edmund after he saw me ‘stealthily’ looking at my… the dog in the bag next to me.

“Like what?” I asked. Edmund and I were working on the intestinal torture line.

“I dunno. That’s just what I heard. But I’m pretty sure they can tell when earthquakes are coming,” he said.

“That’s stupid. We get earthquakes all the time and…” There was a big one coming right now. The dog started whining in a pitiful way. You’d think we’d be used to that kind of stuff by now—oh, the cries for mercy!—but this was different. I started stroking him and Edmund leaned over and started making a shh noise. The dog quieted down even as we hung on for all we were worth. Big Guy was mad this time.

Two days later, Malicant comes walking up behind me and Edmund while we’re feeding her. She likes intestines and we have plenty of those. Malicant is actually a manager, but he’s been at this for so long that he can’t even bother anymore. He asks her name.

Edmund and I look at each other. We took to calling her ‘The Dog’ and kept it that way because anything else would be how you get attached to something. We didn’t want to get attached. I mean, we were keeping her from getting scared and we sure weren’t going to let her get thrown into the lake with people. But that was it.

We tell Malicant that we don’t have a name for her. He says that it’s important because she is a female dog and if she gets lost you can’t just run around Hell calling, “Bitch, Bitch, hey Bitch.” He had a point.

We named her Contessa without knowing why and without much of an argument. It must have just fit. Malicant comes back the next day and we tell him to take Contessa for a walk. He is delighted but tries to hide it by breathing fire that scorches our foreheads and horns.

Unfortunately, a new manager gets transferred into the Division. He is young and eager and a total pain in the neck. Literally. That’s his thing. Anyway, when he finds out about Contessa, he loses it, while still smiling and scraping my trachea with the sharp end of his tail. He is writing up the report when Malicant walks up behind him and bites his head off. We roll his body into the lake with the people.

No new managers transfer into our division anymore.


Maxine Kollar is a wife and a mother of three. Her works have appeared in Mamalode, Clever Magazine, Funny in Five Hundred, Rat’s Ass Review, and elsewhere.