LITTLE BLACK DOG

little black dog 1

I keep it on a tight leash
It’s inclined to be a pain
Gnawing on invisible fleas
Half the time
Turning in circles on itself
Looking, but not finding
That sweet spot on the rug
If I could kick it I would
Yell at it to “Heel!”
And do my bidding
But one minute it’s chasing fallen leaves
The other, barking at ghosts
Doesn’t it know
That all I want for it
Is to bound with joy
Forget itself
Run off down the road
And discover new horizons.

 

When I was in a bad mood, as a young child, my grandmother would make a joke out of the little black dog sitting on my shoulder. Drawing attention to the nasty creature that had taken over my personality was a sure way to banish it back to the dog house.

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18 thoughts on “LITTLE BLACK DOG

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      So true. I’ve seen instances of dogs sensing when people are stressed and in need of comfort long before us slow-witted humans figure it out for ourselves.

      Reply
  1. Roger Baker-Utah

    I think you are quite a talented poet. You employed to good use one of my favorite poetic devices of splitting lines to where one word or thought is shared by two lines to create two images or actions or meanings: “If I could kick it I would” v. “If I could kick it I would yell at it.” Your grandmother was wise, and her wisdom makes a great poetic metaphor. I enjoyed this poem and appreciated its meanings, at once positive but with a hint of the grief and anger we all feel from time to time. I especially liked your well-wishing and hopefulness at the end, which is not really for the dog at all but for yourself as a young person struggling to grow up with challenging emergent emotions.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Roger, thank you for the very nice compliment, and for taking the time to really think about this little poem. It is indeed my effort to put words to an emotion that haunts us all.

      Reply
  2. teacupsandtyrants

    What a charming poem! I like the image of the black dog sitting on your shoulder like Winston Churchill’s black dog of depression. Your grandmother sounds like the ideal person to take care of a child.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Thank you! My grandmother was a very wonderful person, not least because she had a childlike soul.

      Reply
  3. Curt Mekemson

    “That all I want for it
    Is to bound with joy
    Forget itself
    Run off down the road
    And discover new horizons.”

    And know little black dog ever had a better wish. 🙂 –Curt

    Reply
  4. charissagrace

    The tenderness at the core of this touches me…encourages me.

    Another one of those that scratches “that” place inside my soul, and its touch relieves and exacerbates all at once!

    thanks wow loved it in a small intense way

    Reply
    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Thank you. That little black dog curls up at my feet, never far away, and I pay it a healthy respect.

      Reply
  5. Tish Farrell

    I like this remedy for bad mood days, Melissa, also giving your black dog a name and talking to it. Conciliation rather than conflict. And on that note, Happy Christmas to you and yours.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Yes, best to embrace our demons. Have a very happy Christmas, and good wishes for 2015, Tish. Keep up the great blogs!

      Reply

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