Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Revenant


I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you – not one bit.

When I licked your face,
I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.

I resented the way you moved,
your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair to eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.

I would have run away,
but I was too weak, a trick you taught me
while I was learning to sit and heel,
and – greatest of insults – shake hands without a hand.

I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me
but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.

You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reasons to lie.
I hated the car, the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.

The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you
was food and fresh water in my metal bowls.

While you slept, I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all of my strength
not to raise my head and howl.

Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place

expect what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner –
that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry, the cats and all the others in prose.

By Billy Collins
Taken from The Trouble With Poetry

4 comments:

benjaminchew110478 said...

Hi there.

I'm not too acquainted with Billy Collins' work although I know he has a penchant for humour in his poetry.

In this work, he uses the persona of a dog thinking about his master; and the last stanza is the twist of the poem.

Intriguing...but trying hard to link the dog's resentment with the master and the "trouble with poetry".

Maybe I am just damned daft. =)

Alson Teo said...

Hi Benjamin,

Nice to have you here. Well though Billy Collins is an excellent poet but I am not familiar with his poems either.

And by the way, don’t try too hard, just sit back and enjoy. :)

BlessedwithLove said...

I am hearing about Billy Collins for this first time but this poem and its flow is really good

Alson Teo said...

Yup. It is indeed a good poem. If I only I could write like him. :)