On September 9 we met to discuss Poetry and Cats and Dogs. We had a nice turnout after our hiatus over the summer.

 Stan couldn’t join us but emailed to say that if he could have come he would have brought “The Song of Quoodle” by G.K. Chesterton. This fun poem is written from the point of view of the dog who laments man’s inability to smell, “And goodness only knowses/The Noselessness of Man.”

 Abigail began with “The Duel” by Eugene Field. She remembered this poem from her childhood and enjoyed that the cat and the dog were equals. Although the rumor is that burglars had stolen the gingham dog and the calico cat from the table, “the truth about the cat and pup/Is this: they ate each other up!” As one member remarked, it’s an anti-war message.

 Roger read E.B. White’s “Fashions in Dogs” humorously describing different breeds of dogs and ending, “Lots of people have a rug./Very few have a pug.”

 Phil brought William Blake’s “The Tiger,” which he had memorized in grammar school, “Tiger, tiger, burning bright/In the forests of the night,/What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” This led to a delightful conversation on the advantages of students memorizing poetry, which we fear they no longer do.

 Ellen brought Tony Hoagland’s “The Best Moment of the Night” in which the narrator attends a party where he has an encounter with a dog and wonders why no one notices that he, like the dog, is “still panting, and alive, and seeking love.”

 Terry read “A Cat, A Kid, and A Mom” by Shel Silverstein which questions why we want anyone to change: “‘Why can’t you see I’m a cat,’ said the cat,/‘And that’s all I ever will be?’” We laughed at this lovely evocation of how a cat, a kid and a mom can all misbehave.

 Gail read “A Dog’s Life” by Daniel Groves consisting of beautiful couplets and puns that tell of the day the dog was put down, “the very dog who, once would fight to keep/from putting down, despite our shouts, a shoe.” A discussion of how we have turned our dogs into slaves who are dependent on us followed. The expression “it’s a dog’s life” originally referred to how difficult a dog’s life was since the dog worked hard, ate scraps, and died young — unlike our dogs today.

 Mady brought Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to the Dog” in which a man and dog roaming the countryside until they are fused “in a single beast/that pads along on/six feet,/wagging/its dew-wet tail.” She could bring this poem next month as well!

 Hazel read “Little Puppy” from a Navajo American Indian relating the life of the Navajo woman and the little dog who shares her life of tending a flock and seeing, “The tall cliffs, the straight cliffs,/The fluted cliffs,/ Where the eagles live.” We all enjoyed this surprising and poem that in its simplicity painted such an evocative picture of the region.

 Karen read Bruce Dawe’s “Dogs in the Morning Light” relating to us the process of waiting for the bus each morning and seeing the same dogs, “They swirl about in bright-eyed bortices,/Whirl-pools of snap and sniff and pink-tongued grin.”

 Merrie read a poem AnnaLee had brought, “Myself with Cats” by Henri Cole, which describes both a relationship between humans and one between cats, “withholding his affection, he made me stronger. ” We were delighted to have more attention paid to cats who seemed to get short shrift during the evening.

 AnnaLee closed the Circle with Cathryn Essinger’s “My Dog Practices Geometry” which examines the personification of animals by poets, “Nor do I like the mathematicians who tell me/I cannot say, ‘The zinnias are counting on their/fingers,’ or ‘The dog is practicing her geometry.’” We discussed our tendency to personify animals and whether it is wrong.

 We look forward to reading and discussing your selects for our next program, Poetry and the Ode.

Here’s the remaining fall lineup:

October 14: Poetry and the Ode 
November 4: Poetry and Politics
December 9: Poetry and Drink

Bring a friend and widen the circle! And remember to blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Don’t be shy.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and 
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all.  St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

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