Poem Sampler

Dog Poems

Our best friends teach us loyalty, recklessness, and caring.

by The Editors
Dog Poems
Photo by Nathan R. Yergler

Great Companions
Faithful dogs wait, at the window or the foot of the bed, with full devotion.

Mongrel Heart” by David Baker

and now he’s howling like a beagle – yips, brays,
         gagging growls – and scratching the sill paintless,
              that’s how much he’s missed you, the two of you,  

To Flush, My Dog” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

But of thee it shall be said,
This dog watched beside a bed
   Day and night unweary, —  

For I Will Consider Your Dog Molly” by David Lehman

For she does not lie awake in the dark and weep for her sins, and whine about her condition, and discuss her duty to God.

A Dog Has Died” by Pablo Neruda

all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.  

 “The Dogs at Live Oak Beach, Santa Cruz” by Alicia Ostriker

Teeth into floating wood
Then bound back to their owners
Shining wet, with passionate speed  


In Memory of Our Dog
A mourned family pet fill these poems with love and grief.

 “Atlantis” by Mark Doty

   We don’t have a future,
    we have a dog.
          Who is he?  

 “Old Man, Phantom Dog” by Frederick Eckman

          In late autumn the hound
          gone now ten years, has come  

A Dog’s Life” by Daniel Groves

My God, tomorrow’s ride . . . Well, here we are,
right now. You stare at me and wag your tail.

Half Border and Half Lab” by Heather McHugh

He’s gone to some
utopos now, the dirty dog, doctor of
crotches, digger of holes.


Strays and Rescue Dogs
These dogs get into messes and mischief—all while relishing their freedom.

Dog” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

a real realist
with a real tale to tell
and a real tail to tell it with  

 “Dog” by Weldon Kees

       But now, my bark a ghost in this strange scentless air
       I am no growling cicerone or cerberus,
       But wreckage for the pound, snuffling in shame  

 “The Dog Stoltz” by August Kleinzahler

Dogs cannot write. My mother told me this.
As for his talk, well, I took no special notice.
His love of the war poets was well known.  

 “Walking with Jackie, Sitting with a Dog” by Gary Soto

              We find a dog, hungry and sad as a suitcase kicked open
              And showing nothing.  

 “Bad Dogs” by David Graham

              Oh yes, they were bad, my childhood dogs,  

 “To the Quarry and Back” by Katia Kapovich

I rethink kicking him out,
but being cool, I let him in.  

 “A Real-Life Drama” by Michael Collier

            and everyone understanding that once more Bosco
   had been taken over by the dark corner of his nature.  


Dog Stories
These fables provide allegories and lessons for dog owners and walkers.

Christmas Away from Home” by Jane Kenyon

Two hundred miles north I’d let the dog
run among birches and the black shade of pines.  

 “Over and Over Tune” by Ionna Carlsen

          loyal to being on your own in the fur of your skin,
able to exist only for the sake of existing. 

My Dog Practices Geometry” by Cathryn Essinger

every day I watch her using
the yard’s big maple as the apex of a triangle

The Dog Who Dropped Substance for Shadow” by Marianne Moore

We ought to be reminded of Aesop’s dog, who set out
With a bone  

Dogs Who Are Poets and Movie Stars” by David Kirby

                                                      I bet the Eighth Street Dog
had been a movie star, because everything I read
about movie stars suggests they can’t control themselves
for more than five minutes. 

“Dogs Are Shakespearean, Children Are Strangers” by Delmore Schwartz

Let Freud and Wordsworth discuss the child,
Angels and Platonists shall judge the dog,


A Dog's Perspective
Do dogs hear the same songs we do? Do they understand us? Will we ever understand them?

If Feeling Isn't In It” by John Brehm

More than once I've seen a dog
waiting for its owner outside a café
practically implode with worry. “Oh, God,
what if she doesn't come back this time?

The Victor Dog” by James Merrill

Does he hear? I fancy he rather smells
Those lemon-gold arpeggios in Ravel’s
“Les jets d’eau du palais de ceux qui s’aiment.”

Dog Music” by Paul Zimmer

The true strains rise only from
the rich, red chambers of a canine heart,
these melodies best when the moon is up,

Unmediated Experience” by Bob Hicok

When I put my mouth to her ear
and shout her name. She walks away.

 “Oracle of the Dog” by Vincent Starrett

               If we had only learned to speak
               The tongue of dogs instead of Greek,

Originally Published: December 19, 2012


On January 16, 2013 at 7:27am Andrew Olson wrote:
Have any men here written a poem about being tough, or trying to be, or feeling pressured to be, as a poet?

On January 18, 2013 at 10:47am Nancy Miller wrote:
How could you not have included Billy Collins' The Revenant under the
section "From a Dog's Point of View"?

On January 25, 2013 at 5:23pm Luke Johnson wrote:
I'll add a voice to the chorus, Stephen Dunn's "Don't Do



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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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