Half Border and Half Lab

By Heather McHugh b. 1948 Heather McHugh
Customs and chemistry
made a name for themselves
and it was Spot. He's gone to some
utopos now, the dirty dog, doctor of   
crotches, digger of holes. Your airy clarities be damned,   
he loved our must and our mistakes — why hit him, then,
who did us good? He's dead, he ought
to be at home. He's damned   
put out, and so am I.   

*       *       *

When blue is carried out, the law is red.
When noon is said and done, it's dusk again.
The greed for table makes the greed for bed.   
So cave canem, even stars have litters — little   
lookers, cacklers, killers . . . Morning raises up   
the hackled men. (What's   
milk, among our ilk, but   
opportunity for spillers?)   

*       *       *

He saved our sorry   
highfalutin souls — the heavens haven't saved a fly. Orion's   
canniness who can condone? — that starring story, strapping blade! — 
and Sirius is  just a Fido joke — no laughter shakes the firmament.
But O the family dog, the Buddha-dog — son of a bitch!
he had a funny bone —

Source: Poetry (November 2007).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2007
 Heather  McHugh


Poet Heather McHugh’s work is noted for its rhetorical gestures, sharp puns and interest in the materials of language itself—her self-described determination is “to follow every surge of language, every scrap and flotsam.” Describing her work in the Boston Review, poet and critic Richard Howard alleged that “most of McHugh’s poems end in a spurt, as they proceed in a slather, of just such astonishment as is bestowed—afforded—by . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Relationships, Pets, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Allusion, Epigraph

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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