Great Big Gobs

Great Big Gobs of Greasy Grimy Doggie Poop, 09/24/2011


Big, brown balls of dog poop crusting and darkening sit on the left edge of the hiking trail.


His dog heads for the woods deep and away from the trail, circles, hunches his haunches, strains and dumps his Great Big Gobs of Greasy Grimy Doggie Poop far away from the trail.


“What are we feeding him?” he asks out loud.  If, he reflects philosophically, he asks that question in the woods and he’s not there to hear it, does the… Oh, never mind.


What a good dog.


He stops, stops his stopwatch pulls out an environmentally friendly poop bag, opens it, slips it over his left hand, the hand that wipes poop away, that has always wiped poop away and got a bad name that way in a sinister sort of way, bends over and scoops up the big, brown, balls with the dark brown crust.


They are cold but soft under the crust.  It hasn’t been that long since the big dog and his big dumb master passed this way.


This is the second day in a row he has encountered the poop on the trail in relatively close proximity. That poop was on the right side of the trail, but still on the trail. Left or right, the dog is very regular, about a minute into a run and two into a walk.


He thinks to himself, maybe I’ll get here early tomorrow and wait for them to pass by and simply hand the dumb master an environmentally friendly, biodegradable poop bag.


“For shame, Big Dog’s Big Master.”


He spins the blue bag , ties a knot and drops it just off  the trail against the base of the trunk of a tree.


He marks the spot.


When he and his good dog are done with the run he will jog back to the poop bag, pick it up and carry it to the garbage can at the trail head, drop it and listen with satisfaction to the thud the bag makes when it hits bottom.




That should give him about two more minutes jogging time.


Satisfied, he ruminates on the fact that something good can come from somebody else’s dog’s great big gobs of greasy grimy doggie poop sitting unceremoniously on the edge of the trail, left side or right; it makes no difference.


A Visit with Mom

A shriveled, little, old woman sits slumped

in a wheelchair. Her lazy eyes stare downward

until something intrudes on her tunnel vision.

Eyes squint and zero in like laser beams on the prey.

The quarry stands close.  She lifts her protruding chin;

she smacks her lips like she is licking her chops.

Betty Davis speaks, “Nice of you to think about

showing up.  How long has it been since your were

last here (son or daughter or sister or brother or

cousin or just about anyone willing to show up

for the abuse)?”

It Had Been Six Months

It Had Been Six Months, 09/18/2011


It had been six months since Bart died.  He jumped out of the car, pinched a nerve and froze his hind legs.


We put him down, “What do you do with the body?”  “He’s going to an animal cemetery.”  “What kind of a grave?”  “Big one. Animals are dropped in.”


We cremated him and, of course, the best laid plans of mice and men so ofta go a glae.


Sacred ashes were supposed to be scattered along his beloved (except when the sand was so hot it burned his paw pads) south trail of the Saugatuck Dunes near the shore of Lake Michigan.


He rests in a box on the dresser in the guest bedroom.


Bart was with her since he was a pup. He helped her get through the three toughest years of her life.  Through the death of husband Mike.


Six months after Bart’s death, my wife Chris announced that she was ready.  We went to the Human Society and met the Chocolate who would become Buddy to us.


Flea bitten old geezer with something disgustingly ugly hanging from his eye.  We took him directly to the vet’s.  “Clean him up, please, and take off that ugly thing hanging from his eye.”


He had the worst breath in ten states.  A lab who wouldn’t chew except to eat.  Who woulda believed?


A year and four operations later, the vet said, “One more operation and the eyeball is going to drop out.”


Then the cancer went in instead of out.  Convulsions, arms wrapped tight trying to stop the shaking. “Oh, no, Buddy.  Please, guy, don’t die. Please.”


What a good boy.  So quiet, so gentle, so loving.  We always left him out to do his business and he always came right back to the door.  A stray who really didn’t want to go away.  He was home for a year.


He’s on the dresser with Bart.


I Hiked Three Floors

I Hiked Three Floors, 09/18/2011

I hiked the three floors to #31 and knocked.

“Oh, hello, Dr. Won’t you come in?” She looked

behind me. We sat quietly. She seemed ill

at ease. “Your wife isn’t with you.” “No, she has

a deadline on a piece of art. When I left, she was

sewing away.”

“No offense, Reverend, I appreciate the visit but when

you made the appointment I assumed she was coming

along. I’m not comfortable without your wife being here.”

I’d not heard that in forty years of ministry.  She had at least

thirty years on me.


“Boomer’s in the car.”

A sigh of relief and a big smile.

“Oh, do get him. I’ll make the tea.”

The Fresh Air Faded

The Fresh Air Faded,  09/18/2011

The fresh air faded quickly as we entered the

nursing home. I inhaled and reached for assurance —

my ever present inhaler in my left front pant’s pocket.

A warm, dry Indian summer day and bright

sunshine turned into sticky, stale air and fluorescent gray.

We walked the gauntlet of dozing, drooling, slumping

people in wheelchairs.

They lined both sides of the hall.  Nurses and aids

dodged and scurried,

bottles, needles and pans in rubbered hands.

We ducked into the room.  She sat eagerly looking

in our direction.

“Would you like to visit here or should we go

somewhere else?” I asked.

“Oh, let’s go down the hall.”  On the way out she

pointed back to her roommate and whispered,

“We’ll have more privacy. It is nice to see you two,

but where is that beautiful Chocolate Lab?”

“He’s in the car. Shall I get him?”

“Get him? I’ve been waiting all day to see Boomer.”

My wife ushered Ruth the rest of the way and I

went for the dog. He jumped eagerly out of the car;

I held his leash tightly.  He tugged this way and that.

I let him take a pee.  We rode up on the elevator.

He sat so quietly. He knew the routine.  The door

opened and he pulled me into the hall.

“Boomer,” she called.

He headed in her direction and I let the leash go.

He wrapped it around the wheelchair.  Kisses, kisses,

kisses. Then he settled down and lay

beside the wheels. Old men hobbled by and

asked about the dog.  “Just keep on going,”

Ruth instructed them.  They frowned; she

looked at us and shook her head. “If they stop,

they’ll talk forever.” We sat in the quiet and then

talked about her cancer. On the way back to her

room with the dog along, the dozing, drooling

people who lined the hall on both sides looked

up and some of them smiled…at the dog.

“This is my pastor and his wife and Boomer.

They have come to visit me.”

I Sit on the Porch

I sit on the small, open air, cedar porch

leaving the door into the great room open

to hear the golf tournament.

My wife sits inside under a lamp sewing one of

her sculptures on a quiet Sunday


I set down my wine glass on the wood floor away

from where the dog will be and look up to see rain

drops on the slats.

My Chocolate Lab wakes, slides off the couch,

follows me out of the house and faces me, tail

wagging fiercely.

He barks his whiskey bark, a bone collapsing in

his old throat. He gags and coughs, courteously

turning his head down and away.

He turns back, looks directly into my eyes as if

challenging me, “Come on, buddy. Let’s rumble.”

I wipe a sleeper

from his eye left again by a busy sandman and pat

him on his head. His tail swings rhythmically. He

squints approval and

lifts his bony, football player’s knees into the house

looking for his mistress.

We Sit in the Sun

We sit in the sun on the

south-facing balcony

soaking up the warmth,

out of the wind on a cool,

pre-autumn September


My Chocolate Lab nudges my

forearm and nudges again.

I look away from the poem and

I look at him beckoning me.

He’s old.  He might not be here

a long time and someday

I will wish that he were here to

nudge my forearm.

I rub behind his ears;

I ball up a fist and

rub his snout

which itches with late

summer allergies.

He goes to lie in the sun.

I look over at my wife and

return to Jim Harrison.