In What We Trust (Final)
#1
In What We Trust

Good ole Buck was a bear of a dog,
a burly black shepherd with a small white tie
on his chest. One early autumn evening
we were sitting on the top steps of the porch
at my brother’s place, eavesdropping

on the urgent chirping of crickets.
A cool breeze stirred up an earthy smell
from under fallen leaves. Old oaks lifted
moonlit limbs above the woods, but Buck
had fixed his gaze beyond the trees.

His gentle amber eyes reflected the rising moon,
his rapt silence spoke volumes in animal language.
Was he imagining dogwood branches as arms
cradling the crescent moon, mighty Jupiter
wooing that lonely Autumn Star?

Bucky rested his head on my shoulder, appearing
to smile, then raised his soft, graying snout
to savor the ripe autumn air. Slowly releasing
a singsongy yawn, he placed a paw upon my hand,
as if assuring me that he was at ease, and unafraid.

Almost 40 years later, on a clear October night,
as I ponder the complex mysteries of the heavens,
I recall the simple faith we shared that evening;
I’ve thought of it often since we buried ole Buck
by the brambles in my brother’s back yard.
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#2
(10-17-2021, 02:23 AM)Mark A Becker Wrote:  In What We Trust

Good ole Buck was a big bear
of a dog, an all-black shepherd
with a small white tie on his chest.
One early autumn evening we sat
perched on the top steps of the porch
at my brother’s place, eavesdropping

on the urgent chirping of the last crickets.
A cool breeze stirred up the earthiness
of freshly fallen leaves. Old oaks stretched
moonlit limbs into a clearing at the edge
of shadow filled woods. Buck focused his gaze
on something that I couldn’t quite see.

His gentle orange eyes reflected
the rising moon with an awareness
for which he had no description.  Me?
I imagined bare dogwood branches as arms
cradling that crescent moon; saw mighty Jupiter
wooing the lonely Autumn Star.

As I pondered the infinite, Buck rested
his furry head upon my shoulder
as if to console me.  How did he seem
to understand what I was thinking?
Though I’d been taught that we were given
dominion over animals, I had to reconsider.

I asked out loud, “if I’m really created
in Your image, then what about Buck?
In whose image was he created?"
How is it that this simple animal
seems so finely attuned to something
that I have only half-hearted faith in?

You may think I’m foolish; or confused,
yet I’m certain of that autumn evening
on the porch; thought of it often
since we buried ole Buck by the brambles
near the clearing in my brother’s back yard
nearly 40 years ago.



I took this from my post in MILD, and after incorporating feedback from that forum, I'm posting it here for final critical review.
Perfectly fine. Might be helpful to link to the original below your p.s. - Also wouldn't hurt to add a link to this thread somewhere on the original. If you would like the Mild thread closed to further comment, let me know.
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#3
Quote: Perfectly fine. Might be helpful to link to the original below your p.s. - Also wouldn't hurt to add a link to this thread somewhere on the original. If you would like the Mild thread closed to further comment, let me know.

Hi Paul-
I included the original in the PS. 
Please close down further comments for this piece in the MILD forum.
The feedback in MILD was most helpful, by the way. 
Thanks, Mark
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#4
(10-17-2021, 02:23 AM)Mark A Becker Wrote:  In What We Trust

Good ole Buck was a big bear
of a dog, an all-black shepherd
with a small white tie on his chest.
One early autumn evening we sat
perched on the top steps of the porch
at my brother’s place, eavesdropping strong opening.

on the urgent chirping of the last crickets.
A cool breeze stirred up the earthiness "earthiness" is weak to my read, could be improved. Maybe even by just changing it to "earth" 
of freshly fallen leaves. Old oaks stretched
moonlit limbs into a clearing at the edge limbs stretched into a clearing - can't really picture this myself.
of shadow filled woods. Buck focused his gaze 
on something that I couldn’t quite see.

His gentle orange eyes reflected
the rising moon with an awareness i like this - it may be stronger if you move "orange" to follow "moon".
for which he had no description.  Me?
I imagined bare dogwood branches as arms
cradling that crescent moon; saw mighty Jupiter
wooing the lonely Autumn Star. this is nice - i think you could cut "saw" though.

As I pondered the infinite, Buck rested
his furry head upon my shoulder
as if to console me.  How did he seem
to understand what I was thinking?
Though I’d been taught that we were given
dominion over animals, I had to reconsider. 

I asked out loud, “if I’m really created
in Your image, then what about Buck?
In whose image was he created?"
How is it that this simple animal
seems so finely attuned to something
that I have only half-hearted faith in? I like the ideas, but there may be too many similar rhetorical questions in one burst.

You may think I’m foolish; or confused,
yet I’m certain of that autumn evening
on the porch; thought of it often
since we buried ole Buck by the brambles
near the clearing in my brother’s back yard
nearly 40 years ago. strong ending - the narrator trusts the feelings and moments they've experienced strongest.



I took this from my post in MILD, and after incorporating feedback from that forum, I'm posting it here for final critical review.

I enjoyed reading this, Mark.
"A hippopotamus is just a really cool opatamus."
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#5
(10-17-2021, 06:23 AM)Wjames Wrote:  "earthiness" is weak to my read, could be improved. Maybe even by just changing it to "earth" 
OK. "earthiness" is a bit too schmaltzy, and I think I have an idea of how to go with just "earth"

Old oaks stretched
moonlit limbs into a clearing  limbs stretched into a clearing - can't really picture this myself.
Yeah, it is a bit of a strectch.  When I try to visualize it all these years later, I think that "poke" is sparser, and a closer depiction of the actual scene.

His gentle orange eyes reflected
the rising moon with an awareness i like this - it may be stronger if you move "orange" to follow "moon".
Not sure if I wanna make the change away from "gentle orange eyes" as it one of my favorite memories of ole Bucky. I also may likely mess it up if I tried to make that revision.

saw mighty Jupiter
wooing the lonely Autumn Star. this is nice - i think you could cut "saw" though.
I agree, and I'll saw off "saw"


I asked out loud, “if I’m really created
in Your image, then what about Buck?
In whose image was he created?"
How is it that this simple animal
seems so finely attuned to something
that I have only half-hearted faith in? I like the ideas, but there may be too many similar rhetorical questions in one burst.
Thanks. I think I can fix that rather easily.

I enjoyed reading this, Mark.

I very much enjoyed, and appreciate the constructive feedback, Wj. I believe you've made some valid points. 

Thanks!
Mark
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#6
.
Hi Mark,
getting stronger with each revision, I think.
Biggest suggestion, cut S4 - it's all a bit explicit, and most could be inferred from reading between the lines of S5 - and if that weren't enough, cut S6 as well.

(Gotta admit the title keeps making me think of 'In Dog, We Trust' Smile )


Good ole Buck was a big bear
of a dog, an all-black shepherd
with a small white tie on his chest.

Early autumn evenings we would sit
on the top steps of the porch
at my brother’s place, eavesdropping ............... like the enjambment and the empty line that follows

on the urgent chirping of the last crickets.
A cool breeze stirred up the earth ..................... I think you might rework this so that it more closely follows on from 'eavesdropping'.
under fresh fallen leaves. Old oaks poked
.......................................................................... something like
on the urgent chirping of the last crickets.
the earth stirring in a cool breeze beneath
a __________ of fallen leaves. Old oaks poke

moonlit limbs toward the clearing at the edge
of shadow filled woods. Buck focused his gaze
on something that I couldn’t quite see. ..........
.......................................................................... I think this could be reworked too, not keen on 'shadow filled woods'.
poke their scrawny limbs towards the clearing
at the wood's moonlit edge. Buck's gazing
at something that I can never quite see.

His gentle orange eyes reflected
the rising moon with an awareness
for which he had no description. Me? ........ Who is being address (all of a sudden)?

I imagined bare dogwood branches as arms
cradling that crescent moon; mighty Jupiter
wooing the lonely Autumn Star. ................... like this, particularly the last line, but compared to the preceding, it's a bit of a mouthful. What is the 'Autumn Star' by the way? Venus?
(If it's autumn, as the star would suggest, do you need 'bare' for dogwood. Would it not be clear once the season is revealed?)

As I pondered the infinite, Bucky rested
his furry head upon my shoulder
as if to console me. How did he seem
to understand what I was thinking?
Though I’d been taught that we were given
dominion over animals, I had to reconsider.

I would wonder aloud, “if I’m really created
in Your image, then what about Buck?
In whose image was he created?" ....................... any way to avoid the repeat of 'created'? And this line is implied by the preceding.

Good ole Buck, a simple animal, yet .................. I think the 'yet' lets this section down.
so finely attuned to something
in which I have only half-hearted faith. .............. This is the ending, I think.

............................................................................. I know it messes up your verse lengths but ...

I asked out loud, “if I’m really created
in Your image, then what about Buck?
a simple animal, yet so finely attuned
to something in which I only have
(a) half-hearted faith.


...
How is this simple animal
so finely attuned to something
in which ... ?

You may think I’m foolish; or confused,
yet I’m certain of that autumn evening
on the porch; thought of it often
since we buried Bucky by the brambles
near the clearing in my brother’s back yard
nearly 40 years ago.


Best, Knot.



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#7
Hi Mark,

My daughter has a yorkie/poodle mix and sometimes I swear that he’s telepathic. Some inline notes follow:

In What We Trust (REV) - (If it were me I might be tempted to drop the “In”.)

Good ole Buck was a big bear
of a dog, an all-black shepherd- (Good description but perhaps “all” is unnecessary since you go on to say that the dog has a white patch on his chest)

with a small white tie on his chest.
One early autumn evening we sat
perched on the top steps of the porch
at my brother’s place, eavesdropping- ( I like “eavesdropping” as it implies that even crickets are sentient and their dirge is purposeful. )

on the urgent chirping of the last crickets.- ( I can appreciate that you are trying to maintain a line count of 6 for each strophe, but to this reader’s sensibilities S2L1 might read better as S1L7)

A cool breeze stirred up the earth
under fresh fallen leaves. Old oaks poked - ( I understand that the alliteration of the “F” sound is intrinsic to the line but "leaves" seems to be over modified. It also reminds me of the phrase “freshly fallen snow”. )

moonlit limbs toward the clearing at the edge
of shadow filled woods. Buck focused his gaze
on something that I couldn’t quite see.

His gentle orange eyes reflected
the rising moon with an awareness
for which he had no description.  Me? -( I agree with Knot, the “Me” jars me out of the reading of this strophe.)

I imagined bare dogwood branches as arms
cradling that crescent moon; mighty Jupiter
wooing the lonely Autumn Star.

As I pondered the infinite, Bucky rested
his furry head upon my shoulder
as if to console me.  How did he seem
to understand what I was thinking?
Though I’d been taught that we were given
dominion over animals, I had to reconsider.- ( This strophe is problematic for me. Poetry I have been told more often than not should be more show and less tell. “  Abstractions are always tough to incorporate. I think that the  - Bucky rested his furry head upon my shoulder as if to console me.” line is very effective and allows the reader to come to their own conclusions. )

I asked out loud, “if I’m really created- (Again even if this is reported speech it steers the reader rather than letting them deduce or negotiate the poem. Perhaps just the simple question: “If man is created in your image, what about Buck?” might suffice. Just a thought.)

in Your image, then what about Buck?
In whose image was he created?"
Good ole Buck, a simple animal, yet
so finely attuned to something
in which I have only half-hearted faith. - ( In my humble opinion I believe that the rest of the strophe can be edited without any detriment to the pome's argument. Perhaps as follows.)

I.e. :

As I pondered the infinite, Bucky rested
his furry head upon my shoulder
as if to console me.  - I asked out loud, 
“If man is created in your image, 
what about Buck?”

You may think I’m foolish; or confused,- (IMHO this stanza needs to be reworked. What follows being a simple suggestion.)
yet I’m certain of that autumn evening
on the porch; thought of it often
since we buried Bucky by the brambles
near the clearing in my brother’s back yard
nearly 40 years ago.

i.e.: 

Nearly forty years ago we buried Bucky
by the brambles near the clearing 
in my brother’s back yard. Yet
to this day I’m still certain 
of that autumn evening on the porch.

 I apologize for taking liberties with the construct of your poem. It is not something I do lightly. I hope that some of this helps. I think that the rhetoric is one that will resonate with many readers. Good luck with any further revisions. Thanks for the read.

Best,
Beowulf
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#8
Thanks Knot-
I always appreciate your careful reading, and suggestions. 


Gotta admit the title keeps making me think of 'In Dog, We Trust'
Hoped that readers might pick up on the palindrome for God (dog), and that it would naturally fill in for "What".  At least for Americans...

Me?  Who is being address (all of a sudden)? The reader

What is the Autumn Star?  The Autumn Star is formally known as Fomalhaut (Fo-ma-ho) and it is also called "the loneliest star" as its brightness stands out in a seemingly empty expanse of the southern sky near Jupiter, in autumn

in which I have only half-hearted faith This is the ending, I think.
It could end there, but it is important, to me at least, that readers know that this epiphany has stuck with me for all these years.

Throughout this piece, I paid close attention to past tense until the very end, and that was tricky.

I very much like some of your suggestions, and I can see myself revising this one down to a much, much shorter piece: I have a tendency to do that with most of my stuff.  I may actually do that just to contrast with this longer version.  The urge to distill is strong, though I can see that taking a couple of months, if not years. But, what the hay, that's OK.  Just needed to get out my poem/homage (poemage?) to Bucky (who I've also written a song for).

Thanks agin, Knot,
Mark
 



Hi Beowulf-

I just wore myself out trying respond to Knot, and then I saw your comments.

Thank you for pointing out what problem areas came to your eyes:  I can only suppose what readers may perceive, but, after all, it is the reader's mind that makes the poem work, or not.

I am going to strike "Me?", as you and Knot both stumbled on it.

Concerning the form- it does help me to adhere to a form so that I don't wander too much, but I'm not married to it.  If anything, I'm gonna spend way too much time revivising, cutting, editing, until I probably wind up with a version that's 20 words long...

I really appreciate your feedback, Beowulf. 
Thanks!
Mark
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#9
.
Hi Mark
Hoped that readers might pick up on the palindrome for God (dog), and that it would naturally fill in for "What". At least for Americans... Good to know I wasn't barking up the wrong tree (ahem) for once.

The Autumn Star is formally known as Fomalhaut (Fo-ma-ho) and it is also called "the loneliest star" as its brightness stands out in a seemingly empty expanse of the southern sky near Jupiter, in autumn
Thanks, didn't know this, glad I do now. Love a bit of astronomy.

It could end there, but it is important, to me at least, that readers know that this epiphany has stuck with me for all these years.
I think that much is clear (if only by virtue of you having written the poem Smile ) but perhaps, rather than a whole verse labouring (as it were) the point, 'I think of him often' somewhere near the beginning might also work? But really, I don't think you need it.

Throughout this piece, I paid close attention to past tense until the very end, and that was tricky.
Fair enough, but in such a nicely conversational piece, I think you have a bit of wriggle room should you wish.

I very much like some of your suggestions, and I can see myself revising this one down to a much, much shorter piece:
Not too much shorter, I hope? It was a good read (and, last verse aside) didn't feel as if it overstayed its welcome.

I have a tendency to do that with most of my stuff. I may actually do that just to contrast with this longer version.
Always an interesting exercise.
The urge to distill is strong, though I can see that taking a couple of months, if not years.
You in a rush?



Best, Knot


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Reply
#10
(10-18-2021, 01:32 AM)Mark A Becker Wrote:  Thanks Knot-
I always appreciate your careful reading, and suggestions. 


Gotta admit the title keeps making me think of 'In Dog, We Trust'
Hoped that readers might pick up on the palindrome for God (dog), and that it would naturally fill in for "What".  At least for Americans...

Me?  Who is being address (all of a sudden)? The reader

What is the Autumn Star?  The Autumn Star is formally known as Fomalhaut (Fo-ma-ho) and it is also called "the loneliest star" as its brightness stands out in a seemingly empty expanse of the southern sky near Jupiter, in autumn

in which I have only half-hearted faith This is the ending, I think.
It could end there, but it is important, to me at least, that readers know that this epiphany has stuck with me for all these years.

Throughout this piece, I paid close attention to past tense until the very end, and that was tricky.

I very much like some of your suggestions, and I can see myself revising this one down to a much, much shorter piece: I have a tendency to do that with most of my stuff.  I may actually do that just to contrast with this longer version.  The urge to distill is strong, though I can see that taking a couple of months, if not years. But, what the hay, that's OK.  Just needed to get out my poem/homage (poemage?) to Bucky (who I've also written a song for).

Thanks agin, Knot,
Mark
 



Hi Beowulf-

I just wore myself out trying respond to Knot, and then I saw your comments.

Thank you for pointing out what problem areas came to your eyes:  I can only suppose what readers may perceive, but, after all, it is the reader's mind that makes the poem work, or not.

I am going to strike "Me?", as you and Knot both stumbled on it.

Concerning the form- it does help me to adhere to a form so that I don't wander too much, but I'm not married to it.  If anything, I'm gonna spend way too much time revivising, cutting, editing, until I probably wind up with a version that's 20 words long...

I really appreciate your feedback, Beowulf. 
Thanks!
Mark
Not sure if it could be nailed down in 20 words, but agree it needs to be shorter. The description in the first two strophes is nice, but doesn't do much to advance the whole. The description of Buck is more important than the setting, IMO. The last three strophes deal with the philosophical question but as with the original, they still tell more than they show. I think the core of the poem is that Buck teaches you something. The rest is scenery and should be given less space.
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#11
(10-18-2021, 05:42 AM)Tiger the Lion Wrote:  The description of Buck is more important than the setting, IMO. The last three strophes deal with the philosophical question but as with the original, they still tell more than they show. I think the core of the poem is that Buck teaches you something. The rest is scenery and should be given less space.

Thanks Paul,
Yes, you've put it succintly. This one needs to describe Buck, more than the scenery.

I've made some changes, that shorten it, and I'm very, very slowly heading down to 20 words...

Mark
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#12
.
Hi Mark,
not sure the added |(doggie) details have improved the piece, it's a much more sentimental read not and losing the 'half-hearted faith' has really weakened it, for me.

- Buck is black (with a white tie), later he has a 'graying snout'. I'm presuming a German Shepherd, which isn't really a 'big bear of a dog' (or are they?)
- It's an early autumn evening (or possibly an early evening in autumn) and the oak branches are 'moonlit' by a 'rising' 'crescent moon'
- We know he's a dog, why 'furry'?
- Why would you think his teeth 'menacing'?
- What answer did you get? Was it In Dog We Trust?


Best, Knot


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Reply
#13
Hi Knot,
I went with the suggestion to focus more on Bucky.


not sure the added |(doggie) details have improved the piece, it's a much more sentimental read not and losing the 'half-hearted faith' has really weakened it, for me.
Sentimental, yes, though I now realize that the philosophical parts from previous versions were too blatant. Any time one describes a loving animal, the sentimentality is bound to show, but I thought any philosophical tone needed to be much, much subtler.  Trust me, the sentimental angle could easily have been played to true Hallmark glory if I had wanted.

- Buck was black (with a white tie), later he had a 'graying snout'.  I'm presuming a German Shepherd, which isn't really a 'big bear of a dog' (or are they?)
Yep. Black German Shepherd, white tie, graying snout, and topped out at about 90lbs: if you didn't know him, he could look terrifying

- We know he's a dog, why 'furry'?
Because he had a big, fat, lovable, furry head; failed to mention those cuddly, pointy ears.

- Why would you think his teeth 'menacing'?
I cut menacing because of the "implications" it conveyed, but when he flashed those teeth they certainly looked like they could do damage. But, hell, he'd gently pick up a kitten in those jaws (while it dug claws into his snout). 

- What answer did you get?
The answer one gets when in the company of a kind, loyal animal who probably had more sense than I did.  I could spell it out, but that would be explaining, and thus against the rules.

Was it In Dog We Trust?
Amen
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#14
I’ve realized that I had never really come to terms with Buck’s death.
I hope I’m done with this soon, as it’s draining me.
Goddamned dogs dying will kill you.
My brother still won’t talk about it.
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#15
Hard to resist a dog poem

(10-17-2021, 02:23 AM)Mark A Becker Wrote:  In What We Trust

Good ole Buck was a big bear of a dog, I like this line, three different animals all of which are names of dogs I know, even dog is a dog name.  
a burly black shepherd with a small white tie
on his chest.  I have a stereotypical priest image in my mind here, still a decent description of the dog.  The dog is already very personified. One early autumn evening
we sat perched on the top steps of the porch sat and perched seemed like the same thing, then they seemed like different things, I'd choose 'perched'
at my brother’s place, eavesdropping I like the mention of your 'brother' s place

on the urgent chirping of the last crickets. 
A cool breeze stirred up an earthy smell
from under golden leaves. Old oaks lifted
moonlit limbs above the woods, but Buck
fixed his gaze on something beyond the trees. 

His gentle orange eyes reflected the rising moon;
his rapt silence spoken only in animal language.
Could he be imagining dogwood branches as arms there's oaks and dogwood, this is autumn so theyre losing leaves, are the branches wide apart?  Is this several trees togethers branches since they're in the 'woods'?  I think dogwood is too much dog
cradling that crescent moon; mighty Jupiter
wooing the lonely Autumn Star? This is now the only question

Bucky rested his head on my shoulder and smiled
reassuringly. Then he raised his graying snout
to savor the crisp, musky air; opened his jaws
to let out a long singsong yawn, and placed a paw
upon my lap, somehow knowing his time was near.  All of this block really puts me in the scene, we know his time is near because of the gray, he might be imagining branches cradling a moon, it's as if he knows, cause I don't know

Almost 40 years later, on a clear October night, I must have critiqued this right before the revision was posted because I thought autumn was used a third time but I see October, I kinda liked the three autumns better,  
I still look to the sky with questions, but I’m certain so I only saw one question, I know the original had a bunch of questions, and some of those I thought helped contrast the one answer, and you didn't give us the answer really because we don't know your true question, I want to say it's in the title .
of one answer that I got that evening;
I’ve thought of it often since we buried ole Buck
by the brambles in my brother’s back yard.

I think because most people treat God as a him/her, and most dogs as him/her you could change the title 'In Who We Trust' or 'In Dog We Trust' because it looks like you trust your dog friend who looked like a priest and made you think of cosmically huge questions.



In What We Trust (REV)

Good ole Buck was a big bear
of a dog, an all-black shepherd
with a small white tie on his chest.
One early autumn evening we sat
perched on the top steps of the porch
at my brother’s place, eavesdropping

on the urgent chirping of the last crickets.
A cool breeze stirred up the earth
under fresh fallen leaves. Old oaks poked
moonlit limbs toward the clearing at the edge
of shadow filled woods. Buck focused his gaze
on something that I couldn’t quite see.

His gentle orange eyes reflected
the rising moon with an awareness
for which he had no description.  Me?
I imagined bare dogwood branches as arms
cradling that crescent moon; mighty Jupiter
wooing the lonely Autumn Star.

As I pondered the infinite, Bucky rested
his furry head upon my shoulder
as if to console me.  How did he seem
to understand what I was thinking?
Though I’d been taught that we were given
dominion over animals, I had to reconsider.

I asked out loud, “if I’m really created
in Your image, then what about Buck?
In whose image was he created?"
Good ole Buck, a simple animal, yet
so finely attuned to something
in which I have only half-hearted faith.

You may think I’m foolish; or confused,
yet I’m certain of that autumn evening
on the porch; thought of it often
since we buried Bucky by the brambles
near the clearing in my brother’s back yard
nearly 40 years ago.


In What We Trust

Good ole Buck was a big bear
of a dog, an all-black shepherd
with a small white tie on his chest.
One early autumn evening we sat
perched on the top steps of the porch
at my brother’s place, eavesdropping

on the urgent chirping of the last crickets.
A cool breeze stirred up the earthiness
of freshly fallen leaves. Old oaks stretched
moonlit limbs into a clearing at the edge
of shadow filled woods. Buck focused his gaze
on something that I couldn’t quite see.

His gentle orange eyes reflected
the rising moon with an awareness
for which he had no description.  Me?
I imagined bare dogwood branches as arms
cradling that crescent moon; saw mighty Jupiter
wooing the lonely Autumn Star.

As I pondered the infinite, Buck rested
his furry head upon my shoulder
as if to console me.  How did he seem
to understand what I was thinking?
Though I’d been taught that we were given
dominion over animals, I had to reconsider.

I asked out loud, “if I’m really created
in Your image, then what about Buck?
In whose image was he created?"
How is it that this simple animal
seems so finely attuned to something
that I have only half-hearted faith in?

You may think I’m foolish; or confused,
yet I’m certain of that autumn evening
on the porch; thought of it often
since we buried ole Buck by the brambles
near the clearing in my brother’s back yard
nearly 40 years ago.



I took this from my post in MILD, and after incorporating feedback from that forum, I'm posting it here for final critical review.

Here is the first draft:

In What We Trust (original)

Good ole Buck was a bear
of a dog, an all black shepherd
with a small white tie on his chest.
On an early autumn evening
we sat on the side porch
of my brother’s house, looking out
on the clearing between the woods.

I think he was listening to the last
of the crickets, smelling the dusky
richness of the first fallen leaves,
as he gazed with pointed ears toward
something I couldn’t quite see.
His gentle orange eyes reflected
the crescent moon, and he smiled
(I’m sure of it) while seeming to ask,
“did you smell that? Hear that?”
I did not- but I could feel it.

In this anthropocentric world
that we pass through, I find it
interesting that we ascribe human qualities
to just about anything- hands in branches,
faces in clouds, Jesus in pancakes.
My God. Are we really created
in Your image, or You, in our imaginations?
But we are not what this is about.

It's about an animal; one particular animal:
whose image was he created in?
Just a simple dog, so obviously attuned
to something I half-heartedly have faith in.
I know you think I’m foolish;
blasphemous even, or maybe just
confused.  Yet I’m certain of that night
on the porch, and I remember it often
since we buried him by the brambles
in my brother's yard, nearly 40 years ago.


Peanut butter honey banana sandwiches
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#16
Thanks for the feedback Cr,

Ha! I never visualized Bucky as a priest,ever, but I can see your interpretation. The "white tie" is actually how I saw it. Gotta love your take though.

As I've moved this one along I brought in some details that I had tried to gloss over before, without realizing the pain that Buck's death really brought (and there have been several other fabulous dogs in my life, and I was nearly 30 when he died. Yes, I'm an old fart.)

The dogwood trees were prominent in the foreground of this scene, and the oaks were further back, near a clearing. That "dog" is part of "dogwood" was not an intentional contrivance.

I remember this occasion in particular, although there were many times that Buck and I sat on that porch.  (The house was sold long ago, but it's still there, and I've driven by it many times).

I strongly considered "In Who We Trust" as the title, but didn't want to ascribe personification to "what" we may call "God".

And yes, the only important question is within the piece, while implied (answered?) by the title- feel free to make your own conclusion. The other questions just obscured the view.

Thanks again,
Mark
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#17
Thanks for all the feedback along the way, everybody.

I’ve said my piece for Bucky,
now, on to the next dog.

Or maybe one of the cats, Mosby or Merlin…

“In What We Trust” goes in the books (for awhile)…
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#18
(10-17-2021, 04:57 AM)Tiger the Lion Wrote:  
(10-17-2021, 02:23 AM)Mark A Becker Wrote:  In What We Trust

Good ole Buck was a big bear
of a dog, an all-black shepherd
with a small white tie on his chest.
One early autumn evening we sat
perched on the top steps of the porch
at my brother’s place, eavesdropping - I love this start. I feel like I'm sitting there with you. 

on the urgent chirping of the last crickets.
A cool breeze stirred up the earthiness - Agree about using earth instead of earthiness
of freshly fallen leaves. Old oaks stretched
moonlit limbs into a clearing at the edge - I personally love the imagery of moonlit limbs in the clearing. I let out an "aw" sound
of shadow filled woods. Buck focused his gaze
on something that I couldn’t quite see.

His gentle orange eyes reflected
the rising moon with an awareness
for which he had no description.  Me?
I imagined bare dogwood branches as arms
cradling that crescent moon; saw mighty Jupiter
wooing the lonely Autumn Star. - Beautiful section

As I pondered the infinite, Buck rested
his furry head upon my shoulder - I think a different adjective to furry would be good here
as if to console me.  How did he seem
to understand what I was thinking?
Though I’d been taught that we were given
dominion over animals, I had to reconsider.

I asked out loud, “if I’m really created
in Your image, then what about Buck?
In whose image was he created?" - I like the double use of created
How is it that this simple animal
seems so finely attuned to something
that I have only half-hearted faith in? - love the use of half-hearted faith in a human to show that Buck has wisdom in his heart

You may think I’m foolish; or confused,
yet I’m certain of that autumn evening - certain of what? I may be missing something obvious there
on the porch; thought of it often
since we buried ole Buck by the brambles - good you included brambles, it adds to the depth of it
near the clearing in my brother’s back yard - maybe change "near" as you have "nearly" in the next line. Or vice versa. 
nearly 40 years ago. 



I took this from my post in MILD, and after incorporating feedback from that forum, I'm posting it here for final critical review.

Perfectly fine. Might be helpful to link to the original below your p.s. - Also wouldn't hurt to add a link to this thread somewhere on the original. If you would like the Mild thread closed to further comment, let me know.

I only joined yesterday but this is my favourite poem read so far. It doesn't try too hard and paints pictures clearly in the mind. I really felt the atmosphere of it and the relationship between you both, and the wisdom of ol' Buck with your humbling questioning "outloud". Sending love to your dog.
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