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Peter Covino

Closer

About this Poem 

"In this Mobius strip-like poem, I played with cutting away details, but in the end decided its less ambiguous subjects are integral to the overall DNA.  To pare down seemed to compromise the close(r)—with a pun on close-her—more unsettling temporal and spatial interconnections related to poetic 'pacing,' the breakup of a long-term relationship, and then the sudden loss of a young dog." 

Peter Covino

Closer

Peter Covino

 

In the end there was 
    a certain grace

splayed on the table
   unrecognizable

our beloved (pup)
   barely

five sedated on
   a manual respirator

unresponsive
  Phenobarbital

overdose in wait
  human hair

not fur its smell
   and luster

in spite of a final
   breath-less episode

just minutes before
   we arrived for our

nightly visit the ex and I
   he from across country

in case of the worst
  sweet pup

earlier in the day
   recognizing his hide

and seek whistle
   paw shake of recognition

cone headed oxygen
  tubes stapled to her nose

the ex fearing our last
   link too expiring

yes, a certain grace
   to release this spirit

from the metal
   vet emergency room cages

to sniff her hair
   in the last shallow

horror of breath 
   a stopped baby-like

heart all muscle
   and miles of hiking

reduced to toneless
  aspiration pneumonia

complication of—
  the ominous seriousness
 
released spirit etherized
   in the lingering smell

of the keepsake collar
   and blanket on the bed

at my feet where
  nightly she tried

to creep up
   pawing me still

Copyright @ 2014 by Peter Covino. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 31, 2014.

collection

Classic Books of American Poetry

This collection of books showcases the masterpieces of American poetry that have influenced—or promise to influence—generations of poets. Take a look.

collection

Poets in Conversation

In this collection of conversations, poets talk with one another about what inspires them most about the art form.

collection

Poetry and Place

In this collection, we examine the significance of place in contemporary American poetry. Here you'll find a range of poems, commentary, and essays that revolve around what we mean by the idea of "home" or of "homelessness" resulting from travel or displacement. Some works deal with a specific time and location, while others focus on a more socially-constructed view of place through the lenses of pop culture and identity. In the end, we hope this collection both confirms and challenges your notion of place in American poetry.

For a more thorough exploration of our theme, check out W. T. Pfefferle's anthology Poets on Place: Essays & Tales from the Road.

Marilyn Nelson
Photo credit: Larry Fink
collection

Poetry and Sports

While sports fans may not be widely known for their literary passions, the relationship between literature and athletic competition can be traced as far back as ancient Greece where spectator sports often included literary events as part of the festivities, and champion athletes were known to commission poets to write their victory songs. Even our own Walt Whitman was a baseball lover. Reporting for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1846, he wrote: "In our sun-down perambulations, of late, through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing 'base,' a certain game of ball...Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms...the game of ball is glorious."

We hope this collection not only demonstrates a variety of play and seriousness, but also frames poetry itself—the craft and game of it—as a lively and reactive art form, a pastime as great as any sport.

collection

Summer Reading

If you're looking to catch up on your reading this summer, take a look at this roundup of poetry collections published in the past year.

poem

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas
1937