MY HOUND AND THE LORD’S

This poem is for my dog Sam. Or, as his name really is, Samaruel. Or, Samaruel, as my wife calls him.

Now Sam ain’t dead yet (thankfully) and neither am I, but we both will be. One day. And I’ve seen Death come awful close to both of us a coupla times. You know how that is. So I figured I’d get my licks in early in this world. Fas as Sam is concerned.

Now I’ve had a lotta great dogs and other animals over time. But Sam and I have been through stuff together that, well, it’s like a bond of blood. Or blood mixed with blood.

Now I hope to see all my critters after I’m dead. But Sam and I, after we’re both dead, I plan for us to go a roaming. Far as far can get us, wide as wide will go.

So here’s my verse to my buddy. He’s flesh and blood and bone and fur like I’ve never really known. I helped deliver him (like me he tried to breech and had to be turned), raised him from a pup, and have shared close now to a decade of my life with him.

He’s a helluvah dog.

Hope you enjoy.

 

MY HOUND AND THE LORD’S
                     (for Sam)

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He’ll always be my beast
My hound and the Lord’s
By heaven, sky, and ground
Come famine, or come feast

He tracks the forest green
He scouts the river banks
Mountains, fields, redoubts
He runs beside me free
Happy in his thanks

Yet grateful full am I
He calls me his and friend
For in his loyal trust
I joy, and do depend

The roads we share are long
The hunger and the cold
The heat does wear us both
But time has made us old

Summer long in song
Autumn fair and sweet
Winter’s dark is deep
Spring again, and dawn,
One day we both shall sleep

Yet he shall be my beast
My hound, and the Lord’s
Eternity is long
Death then is but the least
Of crossings we did ford

For in some other land
Upon some other world
My dog and I shall stand
Our hearts both long unfurled
My hand upon his head
Bright gleam within his eye
We’ll ask for no new bed
Nor shall we fade or die
He’ll run and scout for me
I’ll laugh and follow suit
We’ll pass a thousand leagues
My beast, myself – renewed
For in that coming day
With stars but without night
We both shall find our way
No distance to respite
For he shall be my beast
And I shall be his friend
That shall be our fate
Together without end…

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THE GHOSTLAND – TUESDAY’S TALE

THE GHOSTLAND

“Within us all there is a Ghostland, but sometimes when we wander in the dark, we become the ghosts of a far stranger land.”

(Opening line of The Ghostland) *

Tonight I was walking Sam in the woods near sundown. I let him go ahead of me because I knew about a quarter mile ahead was the fenceline. When I caught back up to him it looked just like he was standing on the other side of a large steel gate and for a moment I thought, “Now how could he have passed through that gate and fence, and how will I retrieve him if he did (since the neighbors keep it chained and locked)? But as I got closer I realized it was just a trick of the light given his color as he stood against the fence-gate near sundown.

Then on the way back I thought to myself, “suppose Sam really had passed right through that gate, how would I have gotten him back and what would that mean?” And that gave me a superb idea for a short story. Which I originally thought about calling Ghost Dog.

Then as I walked on I began to see in my head I saw all of these scenes of places I’ve Vadded over the years. Especially deserted and spooky places I’ve hit at night or while working some case. Except these places and the things in them weren’t as they really are, and some were certainly weird enough just on their own, they were all changed in my imagination. Strange, surreal, and unreal places in which things like a dog walking through a steel gate was, if not normal, at least something that could happen. I kept seeing a Ghostland. And since the story kept expanding in my mind I renamed it Ghostland.

And then I started seeing weird and bizarre events in this Ghostland too. So I came home and sketched it out.

And yeah, I’ve been relistening to the Fourth Tower of Inverness lately too (it’s that time of year after all) but what I saw in my head wasn’t just weird, like the Fourth Tower, it was spooky and bizarre. I think it will make a perfect Halloween story.

I GET SICK – TUESDAY’S TALE

I used to breed Great Dane pups. Well, half Great Dane, and half Saint Bernard. I call them American Superiors.

So that I could keep one descendent from every generation and so that (going back four generations now) others who wished them could have one. Best dogs I’ve ever had. Best dogs I’ve ever seen.
But dogs are dogs. Their methods of breeding, reproduction, and birth are hardly easy, civilized, or elevated. Sometimes they’re just brutal. Which reminded me a lot at the time of things I’ve seen with and out of people too.

So I wrote this short story about em both: dogs, and people. Because when they are both high and elevated, they are both noble indeed. And when brutal and beastly I get good and damned tired of watching them kill (intentionally or otherwise) and of burying em…

So for Tuesday’s Tale I’m telling ya, sometimes I Get Sick.

I GET SICK

My bitch killed two of her own. There were only four to begin with, so it was a real blow. To all of us. As much as I love my bitch, and think she’s much smarter than average, it was totally unnecessary. Had I not been already exhausted with overwork I could have seen it coming. Could have prevented it. Should have prevented it, but truth was, I was just plain too late. I get sick of being too late. It always ends like hell, and the payoff is lousy.

With her breed of dog you have to watch the pups carefully. It’s not that she’s a bad bitch in any way, or an uncaring mother. She isn’t. Actually it’s quite the opposite. She cares a lot. Which is why she killed them. Too much of love is deadly in her kind.

We’d been through this before. It wasn’t our first rodeo, for either one of us. I knew how she’d litter, and what the follow on would be. She birthed for two days straight, but slowly. Very slowly. Again, normal for her kind.

Six pups in all, one blue, one brindle, one gold, three black. All of the coat combinations possible given her jet-black coat and the complex coat of her sire. But two were stillborn, a black female my kids named Zoë and a huge pup, twice as big as any of the other two combined, we named Goliath. It was bad he never drew breath. From his size at birth alone it was likely he would have been a prodigious monster. Maybe the biggest my bitch had ever bred.

But four lived. A black female we named Jade, a golden male named Leo, a brindle called Peter, and a beautiful blue (always the rarest in appearance) I named Seanna, meaning “blue gray wave.” They all thrived for five days. My bitch had more than enough milk to nourish them all. Leo grew the largest, Peter next, Seanna was the smallest, but fed the most, and yet Jade too did well. Her fat belly often swelled with what she ate.

On the fifth night I gave up watching the pups anymore. Just let their mother do all the tending. She was doing a superb job, and although I knew that being a Great Dane, and about two hundred pounds, she would be a danger to them until they were three or four weeks old, they all seemed well. I could go back to bed at night, let my bitch care for the pups alone and without my interference. I was already almost sick with overwork and lack of sleep. All night den-father to the litter seemed overkill.

The next morning I got up late, having overslept from previous lack. I went downstairs and looked at the thick blanket on my den floor where my bitch and pups should have been. But they weren’t there. She had moved them all up onto the couch. I ran over, afraid of what it meant, but it was too late.

She had two wrapped in front of her, her legs bent at an angle almost as if she were a human mother hugging them to her. She was licking and grooming them. I snatched them away immediately and placed them back on the floor. Then I looked for the other two.

Sometime after she had placed them on the couch they had slipped behind her. They were caught between the large seat cushions, dead and suffocated. One dead perhaps ten or twenty minutes, one dead probably not two or three minutes earlier. Both were still warm. Leo lay above Jade, a familial yet senseless fellowship of death.

I tried what I could with a syringe to resuscitate them both. But rigor set in quick with Jade. Leo stayed warm and pliant for nearly an hour. I thought at first he might have been comatose, instead of dead. But I could find no sign of breath or heartbeat, even a suppressed one. Eventually he too stiffened.

As best as I could reconstruct from what I saw their mother had probably went to get on the couch during the night to take a break from feeding them all. To take a little rest, maybe get some sleep. She’s used to laying on our couch or lounger as part of her normal routine. Then she heard one or more of them whine, demanding more milk, or her for her warmth. She had retrieved them all to be with her, carried them in her mouth to where she was, because after all she wanted them near and it was far more comfortable on the couch.

But they were too young still, and she far too large. Greta Danes bitches will often crush their young if left unwatched, and never even notice. An accident of nature they don’t think about until after death has claimed his prize.

She felt terrible afterwards, as did I. It took her awhile to figure out, but once she did she moaned and groaned. It was really my fault though. She’s a dog. But I’m a man. I knew what could have happened, and I had let myself become over-confident. That after a couple of litters she already knew all there was to know, and that with such a small litter to tend no real harm could befall form her loving but clumsy efforts at tending her pups. At two hundred pounds they were no match for her mass, and because of her breed, her unchecked affections were lethal and sure.

And, of course, I could have put up all of the cushions before I went to bed that night. That way she could not have placed them on the couch, where they could suffocate beneath her, caught between cushions many times their size, and crushed under a mother many times their weight. I could have also risen earlier. I had missed saving Leo by less than five minutes, and missed saving Jade by half an hour or less. But in all of these things I had been over-confident and stupid, had let exhaustion and lack of sleep and preparation blind me to risk. If anyone was at fault, it was certainly me. If anyone is to blame, the blame is all mine. And just as with any reckless, unnecessary accident or tragedy, there is always someone to blame. If you’re ever really willing to be honest about it.

That didn’t comfort their mother though, any more than it comforted me. Knowing how a sorry thing happened is very different from having prevented it. But at first she didn’t understand either. So she walked in rapid, worried circles around the small bodies, tried her furious best to lick them back to life, and when after an hour she finally realized they were absolutely dead, she demanded to go outside and tried to dig a hole to bury them in. I went outside and spoke to her softly, knowing she couldn’t understand me, but finally she looked up and left off her task. She didn’t need to understand me; she knew they wouldn’t be moving again. And so I guess she was sick of digging her holes.

Why is it that I’m the one that does all of the burying? I often ask myself that at times like these. I’m always the one putting the bodies down. I’m always the one digging the holes, or making the arrangements, or watching the corpses get planted.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

I know my time will come. It’s inevitable. One day someone will plant my mortal remains, and that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just a body, and well hell, I like it and all, but it seems a poor ride into eternity. It seems very fitting to me to shed it in time. I’ll have other places to be by then anyways.

But until then, on days like today, I have to wonder, what makes me so damned special? How come I get spared, how come I’m the one always left behind? As many times as Death has vested me, smiled, shook my hand, spoke to me like an old friend and wished me well, he’s never once asked me to follow him anywhere else than someone else’s grave. Just recover from whatever hit me so that I can be the one to execute his rites. His silly, tiring, pointless rites and rituals.

Friends, family, victims known and unknown, even my dogs and animals. I’ve inhumed them all. Planted them all. Entombed their last remains so often that all that remains to me is but a shadow of what I used to know. Used to feel. About them. About myself. I get sick of being the one to do all of the burying. I really get sick of it. A disease without end. A task without profit.

And so one day, one day God help me, just send me a cure.

BREAKPOINT

Tonight, while readying my Work for tomorrow I had an interesting idea for a science-fiction short story.

I’m going to call the story, “Breakpoint.”

It sounds like it might be a military sci-fi tale, or maybe a sci-fi espionage story, but it actually has to do with human longevity.

The story will be a sort of reverse Logan’s Run story (I don’t know how many of you are old enough to remember Logan’s Run), in a very loose way. Although it will have an altogether different point and moral.

In the future, for a very peculiar reason, it is discovered that if people over a given age undergo a certain taxing process then they will either die prematurely as a result, or they will reach their Breakpoint, and survive, and by so doing their lifespans will increase exponentially.

That’s all I’m going to describe until I write the story.

So for now I’m gonna go walk Sam and then make out my sketch notes for the story and go to bed.

See you later and have a good night. Or morning.

Whatever ya got out there.

THE WOLF MOON

I don’t know if you guys saw what Sam and I saw last night, but it was awfully beautiful. Sam and I went out after nightfall last night and the full moon was rising in the nor’east.

But because it was rising on the horizon through a light cloud cover and it was still picking up a faint trace of sunlight from the already but only recently set sun the light was very ethereal and diffused, creating a very, very dark orange coloring. It was a late harvest moon.

It looked almost like a blood moon, just a shade lighter. The first thing I thought of was, “this is a wolf moon!”

Most impressive.

Sam and I both looked at it and then I threw back my head and howled as loud as I could, and then Sam howled. It was immensely enjoyable, and invigorating. And somewhere a deer trembled and a rabbit ran.

JUST GET UP NOW AND WE’LL GO GET SOME GRUB… I DON’T WANNA LOSE A BODY PART OVER THIS

So this morning I wake up and my Viking Cat Alex is on the bed asleep at my feet. Bit me too, the little bugger, when I roused him with my feet, but not enough to draw blood. I can also hear my Great Dane Sam asleep at the foot of the bed on the floor.

Now ordinarily Sam likes to get up in the bed with me and lay beside me right before I go to sleep and right after I wake up. So I call him up into the bed and up he comes and lies down to my left side. Over comes Alex and they begin jockeying for position to see who gets to be closest to me and petted the most this morning.

Now ordinarily, if no one is looking, I often find them curled up together on the back deck, either sitting watching the woods, or sleeping together peacefully. But if I’m around they always start pushing each other around or trying to get between the other one and me.

In other words they scrap over me like a coupla jealous chicks, especially when nobody else is in the house and I’m the only one here, Sam growling or snapping at Alex and Alex taking the occasional swipe at Sam’s snout and meowing and griping and carrying on the whole time.

To solve the problem I had to let Sam lay beside me so that he could put his head on my stomach while Alex lay on my chest like he was a kitten. They’re both very big critters though (for their various species) so it wasn’t an easy maneuver.

Then both of them took to snoozing while laying on me but afraid that I’d wake up to find them fighting and me maybe losing an eye or a testicle I couldn’t go back to sleep. So after fifteen minutes of that crap I just made us all get up and go get breakfast.

That little snooze-fest just wasn’t worth all the possible injury combinations. It was kinda like sleeping with a coupla live grenades on my chest.