Thursday, May 1, 2008

John Thomas Clark

For Tony Pizzuto

With Lex, we had taken two or three drives
To Tony’s. On this drive day, September’s
Best, Lexie’s gear, though snarled in a plastic
Shopping bag on the floor, does not impede
My egress. Lexie’s Lippizaner1 flounce
Begins as Tony greets me. Off the ramp,
I see, hear Lexie anxious to decamp,
His eyes on Tony. Lex performs his bounce
Down on command. On “Release,” freed
To move on his own, with his third elastic,
Stiff-legged, whirling jump, Lexie remembers
Why Tony’s fun. He darts up the ramp, dives
In his bag, past his Moocow, his food, past it all
Yes, past his food – desperate for his tennis ball.

1 Lippizaner - a horse, trained at Vienna's Riding School,
world-renown for dressage, especially its high-steping prance


At the long day’s end, it’s time for bed
And Lex pitches in. He lowers his head
To grab his green blanket by my wheelchair
And remove it. With his usual flair,
Lexie grasps his quarry between his teeth
And backs up, tugging, tail wagging. Beneath
Him, his captive follows. The path now clear,
I fire up the wheelchair, put it in gear,
Roll off to the bedroom with Lex behind
Me. But, in the morning it’s tough to find
My other sock. “Lex, to where did you tug
That sock?” That head tilt is his shoulder shrug.
Lex tugs roped doors, wash baskets, other things
And all day long, he tugs at my heartstrings.


A flightless eagle, I live on the edge
Of your world now. No longer can I soar
For I am not in high feather. No more
Can I ride life’s sunlit thermals. The wedge
Between us widens. But I have a hedge –
Lex – who flies to me and nests on the floor
When I perch on my bedside cliff. There for
Me out of loyalty, his service pledge
Roost, at my legs, insures I do not fledge
On my own. He places himself before
Me so I cannot fall. To underscore
This, when I am on my morningside ledge
And my bird dog lights by my bedside shelf,
My heart soars for this is something he taught himself.

-previously published in Contemporary Rhyme, Spring 2007


Long gone were the days of the jitterbug
When our Sixties college crowd cut a rug
At some mixer. For us it was the twist,
The hustle, the stroll – gone now, in the mist
Of time. On very different campus grounds,
Eons later, instructors make the rounds
Of my class. In a gym-like room, we’re fanned
Out with our partners for the “Lap” command.
I forget, leave the wheelchair in first gear,
And with my “Lap” call, Lex lands and we veer
Left with his lean on my hand. His two-leg stance
Drives us further left. For our slow round dance
I thank Lexie, amid my classmates’ cheers,
For my first spin on a dance floor in thirty years.

-previously published in The Boston Literary Magazine, Spring 2007


I hope I’m not barking up the wrong tree
But my family and my friends dogged me
To apply for a canine companion
With an eye to bridge the growing canyon
Between me and things I’d do. So I asked
For a service dog. He’ll be multi-tasked;
He can bring me the phone, open a door,
Pick up anything I drop on the floor,
Tow my chair when we go out for a spin –
These dogs enrich our lives. For this shut-in,
The pooch and I will make quite a team
But what breed of dog will fulfill my dream?
A lab? A retriever? A chow-chow? A
Shot at the Iditarod with Team Chihuahua!

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