Humor's role in poetry is no different from its role in the human experience of alleviating suffering when not expressing pure joy; further, our delight in being surprised by the unexpected turn of words, images, or metaphor depends on being shared with others for greatest effect. What a sublimely human thing, to have a good laugh with a poet who lived far away and centuries ago. ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Dear Sir or Madam
Please find enclosed my gelatin silver print of a pond deer in the teeth of dawn, entitled ‘Lufa Zamboni Drumbeat’. The clouds look even redder in the black-and-white, don't you think? I would be most grateful if you were to consider it for your upcoming show, Rhapsody Tower. Dear Sir or Madam, after six months I still wait for your response regarding my entry. The sand-orchid below that cigarette sky backgrounding the pond deer fairly shouts for the public eye. I hope to hear from you very soon. Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing to inform you that a year has elapsed since I submitted my print ‘Lufa Zamboni Drumbeat’. I have worn a path to the mailbox, which I check as many as four times a day. Eagerly awaiting your response. Dear Sir or Madam, thank you for the catalogue of the Rhapsody Tower show. I am sure my photograph is in it but after so much time I no longer recognize it. Could it be that mine has been renamed 'Water Galaxy' and appears on page 72? Please advise. Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with your catalogue. I refer you to the botched print on page 72, in which my pond deer is not even visble. Kindly leave my photograph out of it next year. Very truly yours,
For his nature is vigilant and protective,
and yet he is easily approached in friendship.
For he is of the tribe of Ridgeback,
the great Lion-Hunters of mighty Africa,
and will give chase to all manner of creature.
For his antibiotic tongue relieves all manner of sore.
For he does not bark overly, and neither does he slobber,
unlike the fancy and expensive Boxer which is given
to race across the yard, over the shouts and curses
of its owner, the mighty Landlord, and thence to shove
its pendulous flews into one’s crotch and leave
a rope of drool upon one’s bare summer leg.
For Louie’s snout is pointy, like a hound, and his ears
flop over in the front, handsomely and expressively so,
and are made exquisitely keen, and as velvet to the touch.
For he can raise his ears in expectation,
lower them in disappointment,
and when he gallops across the meadow at Idyllwild,
it is as if it were his first time in an open field,
and it is as the Jules Pfeiffer dance,
and his ears flap like the wings of Gabriel.
For he is a fastidious creature and well-groomed.
For his four white socks are as good as new
and his kohl eyeliner as on a Maybelline girl.
For thus could I follow his example more closely.
For he is a careful eater, always sniffing whatever is offered.
For his bark is of a pleasant baritone timbre
and serves admirably as our doorbell,
except when it is the pizza man,
who is presented with the expectant ears and helicopter tail.
For although unmanageable by nature,
he does always strive to please when shewn a morsel of bread,
which of all the foods of man gives him greatest delight,
as shewn when he did drag his master full four city blocks
for the want of a most wastefully discarded sack of bagels.
For he is variously communicative, marshalling all of his parts
in joy, in anger, in fear, in adoration.
For joy he will get righteous air, all four paws aloft.
For fear he will bolt off running as he never otherwise runs,
and head for home, or for the car if away from home.
For in anger he will leap onto the bed and with his snoot
toss covers and pillow and make a great pandemonium.
For adoration he will croon pleasantries with his doggy growl.
For in refusal to enter the public outhouse he will wrinkle his face
and plant his four legs well away from the door
in a show of canine disgust. For he is the ablest of sentinels,
and when he refuses to be walked in the park,
we know there be alligators about.
For when he comes, and stands on the bed between us
at three o’clock in the morning,
the next thing shall be a mighty thunder from heaven.
For he always chooses the door of the tent for sleep,
and the foot of the bed. For he likes all other dogs generally
and certain bitches especially. For he is finder of lost dogs
and defender of imperilled dogs, as in the time he saw
his little dachsund friend Sophie, stalked by a pitbull,
and to the astonishment of all who knew him,
attacked the miscreant, wrangled out of its jaws
and with his own jaws seized upon the pit bull’s neck,
until the owner came in haste and with manifest apology.
For his love of little Mobalie, the terrier
who adored him likewise, and for his grief
at the loss of her beneath the vintage Indian bike.
For his own short life, that reminds me how short is my own,
for he lives in the moment,
and in the absolute security of the moment.
For his love is unconditional, and spiritual, and joyful.
For never would he dip his toe in the dog lake, even in fiercest heat,
and as he watched the multitude of dogs frolic and swim therein,
it was as though they had had devils cast into them.
Until came the day whereupon he galloped in after his ball,
and feeling the lake floor drop, but being in the Spirit,
Louie continued to run, and swam,
and knew that he was swimming.
Katherine Williams has authored three chapbooks, published in various anthologies, given readings throughout Southern California, and received a Pushcart nomination. She now lives on James Island, SC, with her husband, poet Richard Garcia, and their dog Louie.