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DOG YEARS

You see them, large dogs — labs, say,
and certain retrievers — sitting in the front seats
of cars, looking out the window, knowing.
They're cool as opera stars —
and they're only letting the driver drive
because they can't reach the brake
and the horn at the same time.
Given what folks say about dog-years,
whatever dogs go by whips past their eyes
seven times faster than it seems to us.
How brilliant the landscape as it glints
and whistles by your flapping ears
at four hundred miles an hour!

I remember, in high school, blowing the carbon
out of Bobby Shell's old man's Roadmaster.
At a hundred-and-twenty, a truck a mile ahead
became a truck a mile behind
in less than a whimper of tires,
a scream of brakes. A dog would like that.

As for me, my birthdays come and go
in their usual annual way and days dance on
in their circadian habits — except lately
my calendar seems written by St. Bernard.
Parents decline and children ascend
at doggy velocity, and I am a somewhat
less than golden retriever when someone
I trust less than setters
is sitting behind the wheel.



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