Today's poem is by J. Allyn Rosser

Be the Dog


The administrative assistant stands serenely
    with her green cloth coat on, Friday, 5:02.
Her boss taps his Montblanc, mentioning
    the misdirected invoice for the eighth time.
She knows he has recently been responsible
    for losing a prized client. He will work late tonight.
He will come in early on Saturday, maybe also
    Sunday afternoon. Her eyes narrow slightly:
She will have her work cut out for her, he says
    with ill-disguised pleasure. It is hard to tell
whether her eyes suppress a smile of compassion
    or amused contempt. By the time she leaves
the close elevator for the cool, shining, marble walk
    to the weekend, it's compassion.


The big brother scorns the little brother
    in a voice that cracks.
How does he expect to ever make the team
    if he's going to dribble like a girl?
The little brother doesn't really care
    about basketball. He watches.
Will the big brother have to sit on the bench
    again during Saturday's big game?
Afterward, will they clown around at the pizza place?
    Now try it! He dribbles, shoots and misses,
almost glad, almost relieved to hear the curses
    cracking in the air above his head.


Two women sit in the park. One is nodding softly,
    inhaling the rich, shimmery air of April.
The statuesque one is successful in the theater,
    fairly well known. Her clothes drape her precisely
as she counsels her old friend: ... an outrage!
    Promise me you'll quit, start your own business
The other one smiles with grateful skepticism
    and toys with the dust jacket of a book
balanced on her lap, as if it were the book
    she is going to write about her friend
in which she will fondly describe the statuesque
    features, the grand, reckless gestures,
and the clear voice hardened by too much speaking
    or too much being listened to.


Twenty feet away, a tired-looking man says Max!
    as his Labrador, growling, bobbing its head
playfully, chomps on the leash in its mouth,
    yanking and wagging, tugging the man roughly on
as if to say, I know what it is to be master,
    without which knowledge
I would not have agreed, believe me,
    to be the dog.

Copyright © 2007 J. Allyn Rosser All rights reserved
from the Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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