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Bread Alone
Gale Acuff


After I bury my dog I believe
in God. It isn’t easy, so it is.
I’m on my knees at Caesar’s grave. My face
is wet with sweat and tears. He didn’t just
die, he was killed. He wasn’t just killed, he
was hit by a car and run over so
many times he looked like a ragged old
rug when I found him this morning. I stepped
out on the porch, expecting to see him
lying there, waiting for me, rising then
kowtowing 'til I reach to pet him and

then run from him to get him on his feet
and forget that he’s a dog and I’m a
human, or whatever he thinks I am
and whatever he thinks he is, if he
thinks—I think so. Anyway, I can think
for both of us. Then I jump from the porch

in to the side yard and he follows and
leaps at me, so I pick up a stick or
rock or fallen apple and hold it up
for him to see, then reach back and throw it
as far as I can, and he’s away with
the arcing of my arm, moving so fast
to track down and mouth what I release of

me, I guess it is. That was yesterday
and every day since he was a pup and
could run without falling. To see him dead
in the double yellow lines of the road
in front of our house makes me feel that God
is telling me to stay and obey. But

the same voice I didn’t hear, the one loud
with the sight of my mutilated friend,
calls me to the duty of wading in
-to the road to bring Caesar back. It’s not
difficult until I get there—I peel
him from the black top and he’s still one piece
and most of the blood’s already dried and
though his eyes are open he’s not looking
at me. He must be looking at God but

I can’t see Him except in my dead friend
and even then He’s invisible and
even then I can describe Him but I
don’t dare, or there’s too much brightness blending
with everything I’ve ever seen before.

© by Gale Acuff
Used with the author's permission.



Gale Acuff  is the author of three books of poetry--Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2009). Currently teaching at his eighth university in the People's Republic of China, he enjoys sharing his love for English-language literature with Chinese university students. Gale finds that being away from home makes it easier to write about his experiences in the U.S., especially his boyhood days. He says, "I think that effective writing often requires some distance in order to evoke familiarity and recreate intimacy." 


Post New Comment:
Mateus Shoeman:
A very poorly written poem. I've met this person and almost studied with him but he accepted two hot girls one before me and one after. Never even looked at my poetry or theirs. I guess I got lucky.
Posted 05/26/2020 06:13 AM
Wilda Morris:
Wow! If you publish THIS dead dog poem, you don't need another one. This one nails it.
Posted 09/24/2014 11:42 AM
Everyone who is a pet owner knows this heartache. It is a worthy topic and a tribute.
Posted 09/24/2014 07:51 AM
How absolutely beautiful!
Posted 09/24/2014 07:50 AM
Though a heartbreaking subject, the poem is beautiful.
Posted 09/24/2014 07:17 AM

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