Friday, August 21, 2020

Wild Fridays #33: The Living Dead

My Dog

You foolish creature charging in
To flop in my chair with your lop-sided grin,
You chew my shoes and eat my socks:
I’m sure your head is made of rocks.
I plant, you dig my flowers and lawn,
You bark when the roosters crow at dawn.
You chase the baker, you bit the rector,
But you seem to adore the bill-collector.
Chaos comes with you through the door–
You are a clown and not much more.

But when I sit by the fire at night
And the world is mostly sleeping,
My thoughts caught up in fancied flight,
Then gently you come creeping.

You sit and stare at me above you,
Your tongue tip soft as a feather,
And I stretch my hand to prove I love you–
A man and his dog together.

Jack Davis (1917-2000)
from The First-born and Other Poems. 
(Melbourne, J. M. Dent Pty. Limited, 1983.)

Some light relief after all the serious stuff I've been dishing up lately. Yes it has been pointed out that not everyone wants light relief and some welcome the more nitty-gritty offerings  – still, I think most of us respond to animal poems in any circumstances.

As many of you know, I'm a cat person really, but that doesn't mean I don't like dogs too. It's just that I like really big dogs, and it wouldn't be practical for me to have one of them now, though I have in the past. (Not enough funds or space any more.)

But if I can't have a dog, I can enjoy reading about other people's. And middle-sized dogs are nice too. I picture the one in Davis's poem as being middle-sized – maybe a Blue Heeler or a Labrador ... but most probably a bitzer. Heelers and Labs aren't quite as silly as this endearingly troublesome fellow.

I love the deceptive simplicity of Davis's poetry and his mastery of rhyme and rhythm. In this poem I like the way he changes both the rhythm and the rhyme scheme in the middle, reflecting the change in both mood and substance from the rollicking first verse to something more relaxed and thoughtful. 

He was an Aboriginal Australian who lived in Perth (Western Australia) and was even better known as  a playwright. You can read the details of his life and career at the Wikipedia link on his name (above). Or read the concise version here on the back cover of this book.

I bought my copy of The First-born when it was first published, and still enjoy re-reading it. The book includes many fine poems of mourning and protest about the post-colonial fate of black Australians, but I'll leave them for another day. (Sadly, decades after these writings, the issue doesn't look like being solved awhile yet.) 


A Change

"All is flux, nothing stays still." 

Sanaa, who has graced us for a year and more with her thoughtful and inspiring prompts, tells us she needs to bow out from the team for personal reasons. She's got a lot going on at present and feels she can no longer be as useful to the group as she'd like. I'm sure we'll still see her and her poetry around the traps. Meanwhile we thank her for her contributions to us all and to our writing, and we wish her very well.

"Nothing is lost. . .Everything is transformed."
― Michael Ende, The Neverending Story

Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright).


  1. Thank you for the animal poems, Rosemary, and for introducing me to Jack Davis, another Australian poet I hadn’t heard of. I am also a cat person, but I did have a much-loved dog, Jasper, who died just over twelve years ago. He was a little jack Russell cross with a big personality, so I appreciated the poem ‘My Dog’; it reminded me of Jasper’s lop-sided grin and his many quirks, such as hanging off the ironing-board when I folded it up to put it away, chasing the vacuum cleaner, and guarding shoes so that we couldn’t go out and leave him. Saying that, all my cats have had distinct personalities and their own quirks, they’re just daintier and more fastidious.
    I’m sad to say goodbye to Sanaa as a host of Poets and Storytellers United, but I know I’ll be reading her poetry. I wish her all the best in whatever is taking up her time – it must be something good.

    1. Oh yes, Jack Russells are cute and very lovable!

      And yes again, all my cats had very distinct personalities and quirks too.

  2. LOL, I cannot be as much of a cat person as I would like because I also enjoy breathing (ahhhhhh-CHOO) but I am very much a dog person now. My first corgi, Faye, made a dog lover out of me for life. And I don't know how I'd do without my current silly clown, Kit. He has such a strong personality. Sometimes it exasperates me greatly, like when he stops at a retiree's house when he sees her door is open, and knows if he lays just so on her step, she'll come out and make a big fuss over him.

    Sanaa has a large and passionate heart that she brings to everything she touches. I hope her spirited heartbeat will guide her to wonderful things in her future.

    1. Oh, how I love the sound of your Kit.

    2. LOL, he is shameless in his pursuit of belly rubs and biscuts. :D

  3. Thanks for introducing me to the work of the poet from Perth. Wishing Sanaa well in her new responsibilities💝


  4. A most fascinating post! Jack Davis was quite the talent! After more than several cats and dogs in my lifetime, I get my cat and dog 'fix' from my daughter now, which is fine with me. LOL. Will miss Sanaa and her intriguing challenges. Wishing her the very best ......

    1. Like you, I now have other people's pets to love from time to time, which is always a joy.

  5. I will be exploring Jack Davis. Sadly, Australian black and American black victory over generations of hate and discrimination improves excruciatingly slowly. As for pets, I have fond memories of the dogs of my childhood, but here two cats allow us to live with them. They have their own room under the stairway with their own special cat door for coming and going. For shock value, I like to tell people my bedroom is behind the cat house!

    1. Ah yes, took me a little while to get that – a specifically American expression, lol. (We in Aus do know what it means but don't actually use it ourselves.)

  6. So sorry Sanaa is leaving.Thank you Sanaa for all your great prompts and encouraging comments over the years...Wishing you the happiness you deserve

    i adore cats
    i love dogs
    i like jack davis
    i like his poems
    i thank rosemary
    for all her effort
    on this site
    making it enjoyable
    for all of us

  7. I'm smiling from year to ear. Not just because the poem ends in such a sweet way, but also because the nearly mock outrage of the beginning before it transition into gentle sweetness brought back memories of my dog. We fought--but not really--all the time. He would eat me socks, my underwear, knock down potted plants in order to roll in the dirt, and then look at me with soulful eyes, that seem to say, "You love me anyway, don't you?" And yes, I always did. Light relief was just right for me today. So thank you bunches, Rosemary.

    I hope Sanaa finds balance and joy in her new endeavors. Sudden change is rarely easy, but I suspect she'll do well--she's a fighter.

    1. Delighted you got so much fun and such happy memories from this.

  8. Me again. I thought perhaps I'd like a copy of "The First-Born", so checked Amazon. To my amazement they have only one hardcover copy for $76.00!

    1. Obviously the seller knows it's now rare! Try Abe Books or even Book Depository.

    2. Nope. Available at neither. Also tried a couple of other spots.

  9. Rosemary, I too love dogs. Cats I seem to take for granted but dogs have a personality. My beloved Adi Jane died inn 2012, she and I were an animal therapy team and visited mostly seniors in assisted living and in Alzheimer's facilities. She also was a reading dog but we only tutored one student for one semester.
    Adi's profile page:
    her Web (meme) page:
    I liked Jack Davis' dog poem. I've written a few about or with Adi but they don't compare with Davis'.
    I too will miss Sanaa, I hope she writes just enough so that we don't forget her wonderful ways. She always seemed to care for each one of us, just as we each were best for her tastes.
    Lastly, Rosemary it is about time again for me to say "Thank You, you are the best!!"

    1. I checked fore Jack Davis works in our libraries, two locals, and could not find anything they had from him. I should try the Houston Library but I really don't know my way around there.
      in my thinking eBay would be the best way for Americans.

    2. Awww, thank you for the appreciation.

      I'm afraid Jack Davis's writings are out of print now. I guess it's worth trying eBay, but don't be too hopeful.

  10. Thanks for sharing that dog poem! I do appreciate the lightheartedness.
    I will miss Sanaa's lovely prompts.

  11. Thank you everyone for your warm words and wishes! I am so glad to know that you have enjoyed my prompts over my time spent here. Hope to see you around in the blogosphere ❤️

    Rosemary, this is such a heartfelt poem by Jack Davis. I am not familiar with his work but will be checking it out. The manner in which he changes rhyme scheme is oh so very subtle and brilliant! I too am a cat person and used to have four kittens during my childhood. I find their presence to be quite calming.

    The issue regarding the post-colonial fate of black Australians needs to be addressed properly and dealt with and solved immediately. I clutched my heart while reading online about the level of injustice they face! How can one possibly allow such cruelty? My prayers are with them ❤️

    1. Thank you, Sanaa, for all you have contributed to the poetry blogosphere. Best wishes for your future endeavors.

    2. Sad to say, Jack Davis's poems are almost impossible to find online. There are exactly two at PoemHunter, and that's about it.

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderfully whimsical poem. There is a strong touch of seriousness and bonding at the end. Thanks, Rosemary. Sanaa, I will miss you and your thoughtful prompts, and amazing writing. Hope to see your writing about the internet.


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