What is it about Doug Anderson?
I used to read a new literary journal
every day, for years — who am I
kidding — for decades! and
one day I sold them all, because someone
wanted to do what I had done all
those many years reading, and staying
in-tune with who was writing —
naturally, I kept my favorites
like Coyote's Journal, Caterpillar and Origin
and now when I pick up a journal
to see what is happening out there
I often find Doug Anderson's poems —
and what is going on: Doug
Anderson's poems are most often
the very best poem(s) in there.
Journal after journal.
What do I mean?
Go downstairs and have a look.
[ BA ]
A black dog shows up in my yard,
needle teeth under-bite and milky eyes. Wags once
and rolls over on his side,
smells like he's pissed himself. He's come a long way,
stowed in steerage with the poor of spirit (blessed
are they) but I don't want this dog, don't want his snoring,
whining in his sleep, his leg twitching. I close the door,
put on some Howlin' Wolf and get ready for bed.
But I can't sleep knowing he's out there in the cold
so I pull what's left of last week's chicken off the bone,
warm some milk. Open the door and let him in.
He sniffs and rolls his cataracted eyes around the walls,
buries his face in the bowl and slurps.
Okay, I know you're here for a while, just don't make a mess.
He cocks his head at me. What does he see, my silhouette
through milk-glass? A moon in clouds? I go to bed.
And still I can't sleep knowing he's down there all by himself
in a strange house. Down stairs again I lift his stinking hulk
into my arms, carry him upstairs and put him in my bed.
He's warm against my leg, his breathing slow.
At three A.M. I'm wide awake. I reach down and scratch his battered head.
Toward dawn I press my ear against him and listen to his heart.
Inside, a spring rising through rock.
There's a shifting deep down in the strata.
A groan, an angel being born from a chrysalis,
the morning sun at the bottom of the well.
from the Asheville Poetry Review
Issue 29 (2019-2020)
A wise, elder poet once wrote to me to say,
"Beautiful poem, Bob, I would have been proud
to have written that poem." He taught me something.
That's how I think of Doug's poem.