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Night Watch

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Chico whines, no reason why. Just now walked,
dinner gobbled, head and ears well scratched.
And yet he whines, looking up at me as if confused
at my just sitting here, typing away, while darkness
is stalking the back yard. How can I be so blind,
he wants to know, how sad, how tragic, how I
won’t listen before it is too late. His whines are
refugees from a brain where time and loss have
small dominion, but where the tyranny of now
is absolute. I get up and throw open the kitchen door,
and he disappears down the cement steps, barking
deeper and darker than I remember. I follow
to find him perfectly still in the empty yard—
the two of us in the twilight, standing guard.

Poem copyright ©2009 by Mark Smith-Soto, whose most recent book of poetry is Any Second Now, Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2006. Poem reprinted from Poetry East, Nos. 64 & 65, Spring 2009, by permission of Mark Smith-Soto and the publisher.
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Night Watch

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  • Poet Mark Smith-Soto was born in Washington D.C. and was raised in Costa Rica until the age of 11. Raised bilingually, he earned a BA in English from the University of Maryland and both an MA and PhD in comparative literature from the University of California-Berkeley. Smith-Soto’s poetry explores his Latino heritage and the memories of his boyhood living with his mother’s extended family in Costa Rica. He is the author of the poetry collections Our Lives Are Rivers (2003) and Any Second Now (2006).
    His awards include a fellowship in creative writing from the National Endowment for the Arts; he won North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Persephone Competition for his chapbook Green Mango Collage (2000), as well as their Randall Jarrell-Harperprints Poetry Competition for the chapbook Shafts (2001). Smith-Soto is a professor of romance languages, and was the founding director of the Center for Creative Writing in the Arts, at the...

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