The Dog

The Dog by Francisco Goya
The Dog (El Perro) by Francisco Goya

He’s gone, my leader.
Turned into a bird or some other
uncatchable thing.
The world without him
tastes like a thrown stick.
I don’t know what to do.

I take a running step
& stop: there’s no tug
on my collar,
no comforting rebuke.
I keep trying to call
his name & get
the same old howl.

This week at Poetry Thursday, again the prompt was ekphrasis, but with a prosopopoeic twist: to speak from within the work of art.

27 Replies to “The Dog”

  1. Yeah. I had the pleasure of seeing this and many of his other paitings in the Prado when I was 12. He was one of my three favorite artists there (Velasquez and El Greco were the other two). The “black paintings” in particular made a strong impression.

  2. 15 minutes ago, on my way home, I met a dog in the elevator. I asked the owner what the mutt’s name was. Goya, said he. Oh, said I, bean or painter. Painter.

    True story.

    15 minutes ago.

  3. Wonderful! I don’t recall this painting, which I must have seen in the Prado, but I love it – probably saw it when my tastes very different from now (well, the same in some ways, but less broad and perhaps not yet into minimalism). And your poem captures just the tone of the painting – almost too bleak to be ordinary, almost too ordinary to be bleak.

  4. pauline – I’m glad that worked for you. Thanks for the comment.

    Kimberley – I think those lines are beginning to grow on me, too. Yesterday they struck me as rather too ordinary (to use Jean’s word), but the beauty of a writing assignment is that it forces one to go ahead and post, 2nd thoughts be damned!

    Glad to hear from a fellow fan of Spanish grotesquerie.

    Teju – Damn, that’s spooky! And you an art historian, yet.

    Am I crazy, or are you experiencing an unusual number of these coincidences lately? Maybe your true destiny is to become a psychic. Better get right with Orunmila.

    Jean – Thanks. Your good opinion means a lot to me. FWIW, I started this poem early in the morning and finished it late in the afternoon, after driving and walking through a cloudless day that was anything but bleak.

  5. I love the dark spirit of this painting and your poem really conveys the cruelty of this scene from the perspective of the dog!

  6. Wonderfully sad… and yes, I like the “world without him” couplet too. I dunno about “turned into a bird, I think”, but I can’t come up with anything better. It does give a sense of puzzled helplessness that seems very appropriate.

  7. Hi all – Thanks for the kind comments. David, I think you’re right to finger that line as the weakest link. It doesn’t feel quite fully earned – like a dog would actually think that way.

  8. How about —

    Not down, not up, just gone

    Reminds me of commands — which is more “doglike” in my mind.

    or maybe . . .

    His scent fades fast

    To evoke the dog’s strong sense of smell?

    In any case — I like the poem.

  9. Those are good suggestions, Michelle – especially the first. I’ll try thinking along those lines and see if I can come up with something. Thanks!

    (By the way, your link doesn’t work.)

  10. Musings on the problem line et seq:

    He hasn’t come home in ages…

    his fading scents drift around,
    until the house smells like a thrown stick

    without him, his scent fades,
    the rake smells like a thrown stick

  11. Like that thrown stick!

    I met a dog in the elevator five minutes ago, and he told me that his master was Goya and that he tasted like bone.

    5 minutes ago.

    April Fool’s. No kidding.

  12. MichelleL – Oh, I see — you just left out the “blogspot” part of the URL.

    It’ll get easier pretty soon. (Except for the writing part. If that gets easier, you’re probably taking short-cuts!)

    marly – :)

    Ivy – Thanks for stopping by. I’m honored, as always.

    Teju – Thanks for leaving the link.

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