This is an excerpt from Stonework by James DenBoer.

Black Dog

Nothing goes on in his head.
It all goes on in his glands,
his muscles, his nose.
He chases every squirrel
every time he sees one,
barks and lunges at every cat;
he’d eat every bit of garbage
on the road if I didn’t snap his lead hard.
He doesn’t care in a way I can’t.
He doesn’t confuse past with present;
his only language is what’s now
and under his black pads.
He’s the perfect one, in fact,
to talk with, in the rain and wind
of January, when winter needs talking to
and writing down to bone-cold.
As with the many names of God,
I repeat his name often-he doesn’t know
my name, he doesn’t know this
is winter, he doesn’t know
he could kill me with those teeth.
He listens to my chatter, my hum,
my chikk-chikk like a squirrel;
my noises keep him interested
and unworried. He scribbles
along the scent of air, his nails click
on wet black stones, he pulls his way
toward red lights on Fair Oaks Avenue,
he leads me back to start.