David Cazden was a finalist for the Pablo Neruda prize (Nimrod magazine) and has been published in Passages North, Rattle, The Louisville Review, Crab Creek Review, and many other places.

Our Dog

Looking through the living room window
at every squirrel darting

in sun-bent limbs, our dog appears,
as much as a dog can,

to hold his breath,
as if he can’t believe what he’s seeing.

Perhaps he thinks
of early morning bird chatter,

branches rubbing, footsteps
of apples falling. When the consonants

of autumn intrude in his sleep,
he’ll twitch his paws like he’s running,

releasing a muted cry
from his side of the bed.

Now he watches squirrels trace figure-eights
beneath burning locks of goldenrod,

squirrels spinning in circles
through a choir of sunflowers,

and though he’s shown restraint so far,
when I crack the door, he bolts,

bounding up and howling.
For a moment, he’s no longer ours

but belongs to the quilt
of yellow and russet

leaves, draped across the shoulders
of the hills, in Indian summer,

weaving, through thatched light,
toward the creatures of his dreams.

Midwest Suite

For R.S., 1953-2010

As I drive, each barn, cow,
bridge and silo

makes a wake of sound.
Prairie grass hums,

sheets of summer wheat

Then, settling pools, cisterns,
hay-bales, and spools

of bailing wire all pass:
unwound from wooden shafts,

the wire gleams like a nerve,
knotted into fences, binding

the wheat in sheaves:
and in roadside furrows

they wait, as you must have,
to transform

to dust—to flour and husks—
in harvest light.

And on an overpass to Des Moines,
I close the windows and imagine you

buying a tank of helium,
filling your lungs’ balloons

until the string pulled from your hand.
You left without a note,

no words expanding
among peaks and tones

of a landscape,
where each object passing

plucks the air around my car
—as if to exist

is simply to make sound,
to speak, or to be spoken for.