Serene she poses
still as the stone lions
flanking the stone steps
of the public library

just an old black dog
couchant among dandy yellow weeds
and volunteer forget-me-nots
of blessed-virgin blue

who seems to take for granted
all the grassy sweetness
that is possible in spring.

There ought to be a picture of
this moment warmed by sun
faintly redolent of lilac,
gurgling with matins of
a hidden mourning dove—

it should be digitally stunned
for keeps, held like a pungent
stem of timothy between the teeth—

with a camera one could save it
in that little one-eyed crypt
that neither hears nor sees but
registers and stores as holy
relics to recall what’s dead.

That being said, the trick is
to stand camera-less
within a spot of sun
just looking, listening, and
smell the lilac, taste the timothy

as moment fades
into another moment— stay
and watch the dog get up,
shake her whole skin, raise
snout to sniff, then trot away.

70 responses »

  1. I’m starting to think I could recognise a Jobin poem in an anthology of various authors! You have a distinctive voice, and have captured a moment of the old black dog camera-less and poignantly.

    • I agree!! me, too.
      What a lovely, rich, exquisitely designed poem, Cynthia!! Thank you again. I particularly love the final lines, but I love it all!

    • That’s very sweet of you, Bruce. Now all I have to do is get into that anthology…..(though it’s unlikely, since I don’t give a rat’s about competitive sport!)

  2. Cameras are everywhere today: in your phone, on the highway, in your computer, embedded in eye wear! Enough. Camera-less is sounding good.

    But I think I need to confer with Susan Sontag now on photography in the modern world, or better still, just stay put and pet the dog. Good girl, Ariel.

    • Oh, Prospero! You WOULD bring up Susan Sontag’s “On Photography!” Years ago, when I was teaching a university course entitled “Aesthetics”, we had many a go-round with Sontag’s essays. Whether or not photography is an art was not a real question. Photography is a medium, like language, and can produce something mundane or artistic, depending on the situation and the gifts of the photographer. The really burning questions were more about reality, the need to possess, aggression, the numbing of compassion, and the fear of death—all of which come into play as photography both certifies and refuses experience. I wish more people in our time would read and seriously consider what Sontag says about it, because in many ways she was spot on.

      Give Ariel a little tiny hug and a pat on the head for me.

      • It’s a good think I didn’t mention, with lucidity (Lucida), Roland Barthes!

        And our lives, dear Cynthia, it would seem, from an embryonic start, have followed an identical path, save when, on one halcyon morning, a choice in a bifurcated path presented itself and you took a right, into the heart of poetry, while I, distractedly and sinisterly, took a left and made a muddle of things.

        • Thank you for not mentioning that you didn’t mention Barthes, otherwise I would have had to drag my most unladylike epithets out of the closet once again. And I figure the only one who ever profited from brooding about the road not taken was Robert Frost, and he’s dead…and so will we be…but we’re not there yet…giddyup!

  3. “In that little one eyed crypt” great line and poem. They say that those that take less photos often enjoy and live the moment more. Again, we steal from ourselves with our own cleverness.

    • I think you”re right…our cleverness in inventing and refining things seems to rush ahead of our ability to know quite how to use it to our best advantage. Thank you for your visit and your nice comment!

    • Yes, an a second reading, this one as my preferred mode: hearing your voice, I learn yet another two words, Cyn!! “couchant” – wow! and I would not have learned, had I not listened, rather thought it was your use of a french term…..and “timothy” – that is new to me also. I just love this poem and its image, and its invitation to be fully in one’s senses in the moment, with no clinging….ecstatic presence through my senses, nothing more, nothing less!! Thank you!

      • Hello again, Julie, old friend….glad you like those new words. Timothy grass is what you often see in cartoons, sticking out of the mouth of someone who’s a hick from the sticks , wearing overalls and a straw hat….we always chewed on it, as kids, here in Maine. I’m so happy you enjoyed the poem!

  4. I’m glad I looked up the word couchant. I guessed from my French vocabulary it had something to do with sleep but it’s much more, of course. I felt the sun and smelled the lilacs in this one, Cynthia. Tomorrow morning when I’m sitting outside enjoying a cup of coffee I’ll be listening for the
    “gurgling with matins of
    a hidden mourning doveβ€””

  5. Another beautifully written and read piece Cynthia. I like to read first, then listen. I can almost hear you as I read. Some lovely images and use of language e.g ‘stem of timothy between the teeth’. And there is the ‘volunteer’ that the other Cynthia used recently. I should have no trouble remembering it now.

  6. I am glad I’m so bad with that little one-eyed crypt, Cynthia – for obviously moments I might imprison within it are far better served with both eyes, live …

  7. Reading this, the thousands of miles between us seem as nothing, for such moments of springtime sweetness, black dog or not, are our common joy. A gorgeous, sensuous poem, Cynthia; I love it.

    Very best wishes from my new home on the Dee Estuary, North Wales –


  8. A moment in time captured so beautifully by your words Cynthia – who needs a camera to be ‘digitally stunned’ (what an image!) when we can share your words and expressions? I so look forward to your postings!
    Your literary skill provide moments of peace, harmony, introspection and pleasure!
    So sad to see the dog move up and on – I am still Inhaling the whole scene – even after my third read. And, as ‘letting go’ is an issue for me, the benefit here is I can return and enjoy this as often as I feel!
    What a bonus! πŸ™‚

    • I always enjoy your comments, Rob. That business of letting go is so hard for everyone. It’s one of the things that moves us to take photographs….as if we can keep certain moments always with us. I think it works, in a way, for some. For others, it’s just a static image of the gone past. In your most recent post you speak of being inspired by words, rather than images. It’s that way for me, too…the images of imag-ination…we are probably just radio people in a tv world!

      • Love it – “Radio people in a TV world”! – with cameras flashing all around to capture moments that move on forever! Or, even worse now maybe, CGI graphics creating pictures of memories and beyond. What a wonderful world!
        Shame it’s not real! πŸ™‚

    • I once read that our lilacs here in New England were not native but came from Europe at first, and French nurserymen were the breeders of the finest lilacs, so Thomas Jefferson got his from France. Maybe just a legend, but they are a lovely shrub/tree and a special treat of this time a year. πŸ™‚

  9. I love this Cynthia, and admire it. There’s a fine control at work underneath the relaxed conversational voice. It sent me back with raised standards to review something I’m working on.

  10. What a great poem! So many lines that captured the essence of that moment. You didn’t need a camera–your words did ample justice. Bravo!

  11. you have certainly painted a picture with words, Cynthia – it’s wonderful. I do love dogs and their ability to just be. as a photographer, of what I consider artistic images, I would like to offer the point of view that I do not miss just experiencing a scene but actually see and appreciate more of them as i am always in search of those visual moments, always, it never stops.

    • I love your point of view, Sheila, and consider you a fine artist with the camera…which is why I was so happy to have your photograph for the cover of my book, and why your daily post is one of the first things I look for each morning. You see, first, in the moment, and then try to show us what you see.

  12. Sontag said of the modern camera of her her time that it was ‘trying to be a ray gun’. Henceforth our own modern equivalent will be known to me as the digital stun gun!

    • We’ll probably never get tired of quoting Sontag, whether we agree with her or not. Her words are certainly good food for thought….but I’m happy to have provided an “up-dated” phrasing, Brad, and thank you!

  13. There ought to be a picture of
    this moment warmed by sun
    faintly redolent of lilac,
    gurgling with matins of
    a hidden mourning doveβ€”

    …..such a stanza takes me to my earliest days in upstate New York with all those lilacs and all those doves—and all those familiar, neighbourhood dogs. reawakening our senses while drawing them into the now is your special gift, cynthia, and our delight.

    • I’m sure you could paint that picture beautifully, too, Lance,…lilacs and doves seem so amenable to watercolor…but now I rely on a fine artist like you for moments in quite different places, unfamiliar to me…like Kamloops, for instance.. πŸ™‚

  14. I do not any longer do much visualizing when I read fiction. But when I read your poems, I see, smell, feel I could touch everything. I am there.

    I get to have a dog.

    Thanks especially for that, Cynthia.

  15. Hello Cynthia , a masterpiece ,your words are the brushes and the scene is the canvas then you finished the portrait with amazing verse.The black dog leaving the library.Regards.Jalal

  16. Hi Cynthia, I’m back (somehow my link to you got erased) and to what a lovely poem. Although I consider photography an art I think that many of us make quick snaps with our I-phones and only pause only long enough to point and shoot and thus never see or experience, with all senses. Your poem is a full experience and wonderful way to capture a moment in imagery. Thank you, I too, smell the lilacs!

  17. This is beautiful! I love the ‘volunteer forget-me-nots’. Sometimes when we have camera in hand at the ready we may have the moment to look at forever in a picture, but the actual moment hasn’t really been experienced. We can miss too much 😊

    • Hi Chris. For some strange reason your comment came in requesting an “Approve”, so of course I approved, and then your second one came in with Leo,(ha, ha) and then your correction. Don’t know what happened, but anyway edited out the duplication.

      Now, besides thanking you for your lovely comment, I am eager to know that your book launch was a wonderful time….I trust it was!

  18. And this is why I love your poems Cynthia – you bring the essence of seeing what is natural and an innocent view of the glowing-warm world of fresh eyes. Blessed be that old dog, with his quiet gaze of the scene around him – staying warm in the sun’s rays. We really don’t need a camera, do we? Your rich words give us the moving picture and all the sound. Yeah my friend, it’s why on this Sunday I cherish your brilliant writing, it brings me the most wonderful place ~ hope you have a most wonderful week.

    Did I forget to tell you, We’ve had some babies this year – up in the corner of our front porch, totally hidden from everyone’s view, not only one group of babies this year, but we are now on to a third set. Who knew I’d be running a maternity ward of only beautiful morning doves!!

    • Happy Sunday, Mary! Oh, aren’t you lucky to have those little doves to watch and listen to. I have some here, but haven’t quite placed where they are nesting. As I mentioned somewhere on my blog, I am not a very good bird watcher, but an excellent bird listener….I tend to know them by their calls and songs Some people call that dove a morning dove, and some call it a mourning dove, I’ve read, because its call sounds sad. I do usually hear it in the morning, too!
      Thank you, as always for all the nice things you say about my poem. As you yourself know, it helps to have readers and viewers who appreciate. You have a good week, too.

  19. Silly WordPress!

    The book launch was fabulous. I may write a post about it on my blog in the not too distant future. I had felt quite nauseous all week and when I was actually there I enjoyed every minute. I’m very pleased I took up my tutor’s offer to do this 😊. I will treasure the memory of it.

    • Interesting you should refer to my audio as “podcasting,” since I would not call it that. It really is just a simple Mp3 recording presented through the WordPress “add media” platform. I do agree that sound is important in poetry, especially the kind of poetry that works in forms more complex than the American pseudo- haiku. For prose, I guess it’s helpful: for radio , for the blind, the illiterate, and the too-busy to read a real book. (Probably helpful, also, as a bedside CD for insomniacs and “readers” of all the unnecessary books that now proliferate.) Otherwise, there is much to be said for the silent reader who can hear beautifully crafted collections of printed words, look up from the page and ponder, go back and read again, and enjoy a literacy that extends beyond and is more profound than a passing moment of sound waves.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s