Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Humane Society

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Author Grace Paley once remarked that she knew she had a story when she had two stories. In today’s poem Bruce Spang, the poet laureate of Portland, tells two stories at once -- one about a dog, and the second about a marriage.

Humane Society by Bruce Spang

The neighbor’s pup,
wanting in,
won’t let up.
Yelp. Yelp. Yelp.
This, the fourth night
of its desperation.
Our two cats huddle
at the open window
pretending to be sympathetic.
Downstairs, the cuckoo pleads
its shrill three-stress call.
I can remember,
shivering in my pajamas,
calling out, again and again,
Sandy, Sandy, Sandy,
drifting into blackness.
Leave it alone, My wife would intone.
Let it learn.
But it was not the dog I was calling,
not then, when my marriage
could be counted in the three-word
sentences we barked between us.
It was my wanting out, there
on the porch in the cold,
waiting to hear how far my voice
could carry across night fields.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2002 by Bruce Spang. Reprinted from The Knot, Snowdrift Press, 2002, by permission of Bruce Spang. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.