“I say / the word love / knowing the word / fails . . .”
with a title from lines by Gil Ott
that parts of us are dead dying died
I say the hound dog in my mouth
is neither dog nor mouth
but a cruel case of love Love of the world
and its way To stay Or try the sinking rain October
air Leaves left as death- scent Word or
words made whole fractured death
of the tongue-stung I said I say
love as a way to hold love though it
falls sending September away Love of hickory
leaf Of elm Ironwood’s strong riveting bark and branch
light when all the green goes gone The hound mouth
is sound delight Hear my heart gone howl
Hear leaves in the throat Fluttering wind
in the way words work to loosen and ooze Resin
scent in the rosin ground Hound snout water-witching
the wind Please the leaves Please my throat Ease
the falling failure in the flailing word What hound
lift and sound? What dog in my mouth that is not
a mouth? So it came and went and want and gone
A home we built a home we held Hardwood trees
in the damp coon holler In the hollow mouth Down the ravine-
rain running red Blood of sycamore sap Of an Indiana black willow
grasp of wind Walnut-ground—in the walnut sound—broken yet
whole the way love falls opening its seed self unto the tongue,
saying we too might thrive aside athwart the pulsing
pods Gorgeous hound in the gorgeously warm secret dog-channels of the chest
Desire = Pain (What Our Words Do)
Based on a photo of a beagle placed inside an exhibit of jaws cut out of a 900-pound shark caught in Bodega Bay, California, July 27, 1959
In mathematics, you don’t treat any number with favoritism.
In words, test my mouth out with soup. Perturb the parasite beating below the tongue.
Diagnosis: Ninth bursal ray shorter than tenth
Buccal capsule ratio 1:2.6-3.2
Near the Greasy Grass River, that place the final victors—defeated for once—called the Little Big Horn.
Pity our insides. The parts of ourselves we call uncle. The star we call scar.
Diagnosis: External corona with more th.an eight elements
Coronal elements small
Now all I have is my life.
Now, count the jaw bone. The treacherous teeth. The husk of a mouth cut out of a 900-pound shark, placed as a prop around the frightened beagle-hound.
Remember the dog you loved? The person in the mirror once loving you unconditionally?
There’s a yellow thread we follow to the curve. The sixty-three-day gestation of a hound.
Dear hound-dog intention of the world. Once I loved my life.
Diagnosis: Sublingual glands 13-16% of total body length
Diagnosis: My own tongue eating my mother-mouth (moutho-sporia)
Hound dog. Hound-dog blame. Hound dog bleating blat your sheep.
What of the ocean does it scent, even in the non-stirring mouth? In the teeth, alert but unhinged?
Sleep comes in many storms. One way to find your life is to mimic the rain. Until you find in yourself a godly sorrow.
We lived by what our words did and did not do. Inside the dog bones we ate. Inside our relaxed, twitching need for sleep.
This photo is nothing but a dog shadow. The stillness therein. Words asking words the wordly way out.
: Ratio of vulva position to total body length 1:3
: Ratio of female tail length to total body length 1:10
: Ratio of one’s desire to female body length 1:1
In favoritism, you don’t treat any number mathematically.
Come back with me from the dead.
GEORGE KALAMARAS, former Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014-2016), is the author of fifteen books of poetry, eight of which are full-length, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011), and The Theory and Function of Mangoes, winner of the Four Way Books Intro Series (2000). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.