The last dog I owned, or — more humanely put, so
I’m told — that I used to live with, she’d follow me
everywhere. She died eventually. I put her down’s
more the truth. It is the truth. And now
                                                                          this dog — that
I mostly call Sovereignty, both for how sovereignty,
like fascination, can be overrated, and for how long it’s
taken me, just to half-understand that. Pretty much my
whole life. Mortality seemed an ignorable wilderness
like any other; the past seemed what, occasionally, it
still does, a version of luck when luck, as if inevitably,
gets stripped away: what hope, otherwise, for suffering?
When did honesty become so hard to step into and stay
inside of, I’m not saying
                                             forever, I could last a fair time
on a small while. Sovereignty sleeps hard beside me. I
pass my hands down the full length of him, like a loose
command through a summer garden. Let those plants
that can do so lean away on their stems, toward the sun.

More Poems by Carl Phillips