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Luther
by
Steven Givler


Next
 
Were he human,
This dog would be old enough to drive
But no teenage hormones surge through his tired veins
 
Those days are gone
Now that his muzzle is flecked with grey
 
He lived them when he had them though
This old dog, who has shared my home in five different states
And known me longer than has my wife
 
We found each other when I was single
He taught me the value of coming home at night
And consistency
And patience
Till he sat, stayed, spoke and heeled,
All at my command
And loved at no command at all
 
Half lab, half greyhound
All lean and rangy, ribs and legs
He could chase a rabbit like nobody’s business
 
In west Texas he hit his peak
I would walk him on the plains
Nothing but mesquite and prickly pear
And jackrabbits, long ears and longer legs
 
I would spot them before he did
Being taller than he is
And, taking him by the collar
I would tell him, “Sit”
 
And, knowing what was coming
He would sit, ears up, and trembling
Waiting for me to point,
The only dog I’ve ever known to do so
 
Pointing at the rabbit, I watch him swivel his fine head
Until he spies a black-tipped ear, or hears a sound
Or trusts my sense of direction
 
Trembling no longer describes him
Taut as piano wire
Weight on his haunches
The line of his back the curve of a spring
 
I tell him “Go” (my favorite part)
And he launches like a missile
Nearly on the jack before it knows he’s coming
 
They are off
The rabbit a low grey streak
Luther galloping close behind
Bounding over cactus
Like a steeplechaser
Front paws tucked beneath his chin
Ears back
Sailing effortlessly
And, I swear it, grinning
 
Usually the rabbit wins,
Only by the slimmest margin
But when he wins
Luther seems almost disappointed
 
Gleaming teeth close on heaving fur
Yet there is no carnage
He tosses the kicking rabbit high over his shoulder
 
It lands, still running, and sprints off
No longer of any interest
 
Not that Luther could not kill
Of this I am sure, gauging from that time
He interrupted the man who meant to mug me
Clamping his nether parts
In a vice of strong white teeth
 
The man disappeared across a parking lot
And down an alley
Luther firmly attached
I judged his position
By screams that sounded for all the world
As if they came from a nine year old girl
 Luther trotted back five minutes later
Wagging his tail

Copyright 2009 by Steven Givler. 
Used with permission of the author.

 
Purchase a framed print of this poem.

Steven Givler is an artist, writer, and language specialist. Currently living in Germany, he has also made his home in Greece, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Portugal. Steven's book, Notes of Joy and Sadness, a collection of war letters and paintings, is awaiting publication, and two of his short stories appear in the anthology, Operation Homecoming, from Random House. Learn more about Steven and see his paintings at www.stevengivler.com .
 

 


New comments are closed for now.
jtmilford:
Congratulations on five years of poetry. I am new but enjoy every daily poem. I can get a perfect picture of you and Luther. Thanks
Posted 06/12/2014 07:50 PM
Jo:
Congratulations Jane on five fabulous years. This poem by Steven is a wonderful way to celebrate. Thank you, Steven and you Jane for bringing to us the variety of poets that you do, of being there each day to brighten the morning first thing.
Posted 06/01/2014 03:26 PM
Donna Pflueger:
A wonderful memory captured in time.I may be getting forgetful about some things but I remember every detail of the time spent loving my dogs. Thanks Steven. Thanks Jayne, congrats on an incredible 5 years and please know that your site enlightens me every day - what pleasure from so many diverse poets and poems...I thank you.
Posted 06/01/2014 02:15 PM
pwax:
I love it! I'm sending this one to my friend who loves dogs. And congratulations, Jayne, for your work to bring this site to its wooden anniversary!
Posted 06/01/2014 11:36 AM
erinsnana:
Loved the poem! Congratulations on the fifth anniversary, Jayne!
Posted 06/01/2014 10:04 AM
peninsulapoet:
Congratulations Jayne! YDP begins my day, every day. I am a sucker for dogs and dog poems. I am on my fourth standard poodle & my man has added a German Shepherd to the family. Lovely poem. Donna Hilbert
Posted 06/01/2014 09:59 AM
KevinArnold:
Yes, congratulations Jayne on birthing a new poetry voice, that of YDP. As the owner of three consecutive female black standard poodles, including now-six-year-old Ava, I appreciate Steven's poem. Ava also responds to "Go!" although the one time she caught up with a black squirrel I fear the squirrel didn't fare as well as Luther's rabbit.
Posted 06/01/2014 08:47 AM
plgoodman:
OMG! Fantastic, entertaining poem. A fitting tribute to an admirable milestone. Congrats all!
Posted 06/01/2014 08:32 AM
Janet Leahy:
Congratulations Jayne on your fifth anniversary! Wonderful to meet the poets that come to my inbox each day from Your Daily Poem. Today was special with the poem about Luther chasing rabbits and muggers. Thanks Steve.
Posted 06/01/2014 08:15 AM
Buckner14:
I can see our dog, Amos, making the same chase (and never winning) with bravado and eager legs. Thanks for reminding me of Amos, now a dozen years gone and still lamented.
Posted 06/01/2014 07:55 AM
rhonasheridan:
I enjoyed reading this poem so much. As a family we frequently reminisce about Islay _ who died aged 17. She was a constant in a very moving family. Your poem brought it all back.
Posted 06/01/2014 12:58 AM


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