Poem: ‘Walking my Dog While at War’

For Molly

Saw you at the pound
that first time,
ears down,
picked on by others,
bite-marked belly.
Knew you were the one.

A hunter,
killed a rat
that first winter
in the Bronx.
A chicken three years later
in Ulster County.
Alison left
forty dollars in
their mailbox.

Late at night,
everyone asleep
opening up that box
writing of decades-old demons.
By my side,
looking up
your boxer, pit bull
block-headed face,
your worried look.

In a war many years ago,
another world, life…
men, teenage killers
looked at me with that same look.
Did they…you love me as a hunter,
top dog, squad leader?

We ate, eat,
drink, piss and shit.
We guard, protect and aid.
We track, patrol,
alert, pounce, attack and kill.

OK…I’m back, girl.
Get the leash.
Let’s close this box,
go out and smell those sweet
Pelham Parkway smells
we both have learned to love.

Stay close, my friend.
Let’s be bad.

Dayl Wise is a Vietnam veteran, a poet, and editor of two collections of veteran poetry.