Jack Grapes is an award-winning poet, playwright, actor, publisher and teacher. He wrote and starred in Circle of Will, a metaphysical comedy about the “lost” years of Will Shakespeare, which won theatre critic awards for Best Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor. Jack is also the author of two books on writing: Method Writing, and Advanced Method Writing. His most recent books of poetry are: The Naked Eye, New & Selected Poems, 1987-2012; Poems So Far So Far So Good So Far To Go; and his newest collection, All The Sad Angels. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Lori.
Jessie, My Dog
I was driving back from a music recital
this evening and found myself cruising
down a street I used to frequent 30 years ago
but haven’t driven down since. So many
of the places I used to go to are gone.
A favorite Italian restaurant, now a fitness center.
A bookstore, now an antique store.
A café where I read most of One Hundred
Years of Solitude, now an ice-cream parlor.
It isn’t as if I was planning to go to any
of those places, but it makes me sad to know
they’re gone. It doesn’t really matter.
I’m 72 years old, a lot is gone.
It’s all going to go eventually.
By the cafe, a boy was walking his dog
along the sidewalk.
One day, the boy will be gone,
along with his dog.
My dog is gone.
Jessie used to lie by my feet as I sat
at the computer trying to write a poem.
She’s gone now. No more Jessie.
After I’d written the poem, I’d take Jessie
out for her midnight walk. Sometimes
we’d pass a house and the people inside
might still be up, sitting at the table,
talking and drinking.
But mostly the streets were quiet,
and she and I would enjoy the night air,
the way the leaves rustled
when a wind came up from the ocean.
Maybe a poem would be buried
in someone’s front yard,
and Jessie would dig it up
and bring it to me,
like a bone she’d just found.
That poem about
the man in charge of watering,
Jessie dug that one up, just dug it up
and brought it to me.
“Whatcha got there, girl?”
She dropped it on the sidewalk,
then trotted off,
looking for more poems,
No more bones now,
and few poems to be dug up,
except this one,
which is torn at the edges
and I’ve stopped caring about the
line breaks or the metaphors
or even doing the kind
of things a poet is supposed to do
when writing a poem,
making everything ship-shape.
No more bones,
no more ship-shape.
I’m not even sure
you’re reading this poem
Maybe no one is reading it.
Like I said earlier,
it doesn’t matter, you know.
I write the poems anyway.
Jessie will come back some night,
take my poems on our walk,
and bury them in someone’s front yard,
and all I’ll have to do
in my remaining years
is walk my weary bones
down the sidewalk
and dig ‘em up.
Dig up those poems that Jessie buried,
my good girl dog,
taking such good care of me,
then and now.
Jessie won’t be with me,
but I’ll thank her,
give her a good rub on the back,
then let her go.
Need More Jack Grapes?
Get his most recent books:
Poems So Far So Good So Far To Go
All the Sad Angels
The Naked Eye: New and Selected Poems, 1987-2012 2nd Ed.
Featured image by Alexis Rhone Fancher