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N O V E M B E R   1 9 8 8

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HOMER'S SEEING-EYE DOG

by William Matthews


Hear William Matthews read this poem (in RealAudio):

RA 28.8, RA 14.4

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by William Matthews:
Dire Cure (1997)
The Shooting (1996)
Cheat Seats, The Cincinnati Gardens, Professional Basketball, 1959 (1994)
The Blues (1989)
On the Porch at the Frost Place, Franconia, N.H. (1982)
New (1980)

See an Atlantic Unbound interview with William Matthews.


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Most of the time he worked, a sort of sleep
with a purpose, so far as I could tell.
How he got from the dark of sleep
to the dark of waking up I'll never know;
the lax sprawl sleep allowed him
began to set from the edges in,
like a custard, and then he was awake,
me too, of course, wriggling my ears
while he unlocked his bladder and stream
of dopey wake-up jokes. The one
about the wine-dark pee I hated instantly.
I stood at the ready, like a god
in an epic, but there was never much
to do. Oh now and then I'd make a sure
intervention, save a life, whatever.
But my exploits don't interest you
and of his life all I can say is that
when he'd poured out his work
the best of it was gone and then he died.
He was a great man and I loved him.
Not a whimper about his sex life --
how I detest your prurience --
but here's a farewell literary tip:
I myself am the model for Penelope.
Don't snicker, you hairless moron,
I know so well what faithful means
there's not even a word for it in Dog,
I just embody it. I think you bipeds
have a catchphrase for it: "To thine own self
be true, . . ." though like a blind man's shadow,
the second half is only there for those who know
it's missing. Merely a dog, I'll tell you
what it is: " . . . as if you had a choice."




Copyright © 1988 by William Matthews. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; November 1988; Homer's Seeing-Eye Dog; Volume 262, No. 5; page 62.

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