Over and Over Tune

By Ioanna Carlsen Ioanna Carlsen
You could grow into it,   
that sense of living like a dog,   
loyal to being on your own in the fur of your skin,   
able to exist only for the sake of existing.   

Nothing inside your head lasting long enough for you to hold onto,   
you watch your own thoughts leap across your own synapses and disappear—
small boats in a wind,   
       fliers in all that blue,   
               the swish of an arm backed with feathers,   
a dress talking in a corner,   
               and then poof,   
       your mind clean as a dog’s,   
your body big as the world,   
       important with accident—
               blood or a limp, fur and paws.   

You swell into survival,   
       you take up the whole day,   
you’re all there is,   
       everything else is   
not you, is every passing glint, is   
       shadows brought to you by wind,   
               passing into a bird’s cheep, replaced by a   
                              rabbit skittering across a yard,   
a void you yourself fall into.   

You could make this beautiful,   
       but you don’t need to,   
living is this fleshy side of the bone,   
       going on is this medicinal smell of the sun—
               no dog ever tires of seeing his life   

keep showing up at the back door   
even as a rotting bone with a bad smell;   
feet tottering, he dreams of it,   
wakes and licks no matter what.

Source: Poetry (March 2001).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

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March 2001


Ioanna Carlsen is the author of The Whisperer (2014) and has contributed poems and stories to The Hudson ReviewNimrodPoetry East, and other literary journals. She earned an MA in Linguistics from the University of Illinois. Carlsen has poetry and short story manuscripts that are looking for a publisher. She lives in New Mexico.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Philosophy, Arts & Sciences, Pets, Relationships, Living, The Mind

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Imagery, Mixed

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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