May 28, 2011

Caleb Barber reads his winning poem, "Pete"

2011 Merit Award
By Caleb Barber


I pick up the terrier that has been
trailing me steadily for two blocks
of my walk home. He’s a little thing:
white wired hair with black patches,
and a collar tag which says his name
is “Pete,” along with an address not far
from here. I carry him under my arm,
tell him he’s a handsome boy,
and he nuzzles my ear. I pat his chest
and he sticks his paw in my pocket,
then looks out over the neighborhood
as if I were the mast of a ship nearing port.

When we get to the house, I double-check
the number against the tag,
then drop him over the picket fence.
As soon as he hits dirt, he reels around
snarling, shoving his muzzle through the slats
with his teeth in a brutal grin.
He peels back grass clumps with his claws
and beats himself against the bushes,
bursting blossoms from their stems.
Oh, Pete. You would have me
if you ever caught me on your side
of the fence, but hop to mine anytime.

*Copyright 2011 by Caleb Barber. Photo by Karee Wardrop.