Literary Yard

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‘Lesson’ and other poems by J.K. Durick

By: J.K. Durick


You ask how often I walk the dog –
well, after lunch, after our naps, he’s
there waiting, wagging, making that
humming noise he uses when he’s
anxious I’ll forget, get in the car and
be gone without the expected walk
that fits as a piece of his day. We’ve
been taking the same walk for years,
stop at the same places, cross and
re-cross the same streets as if there
was a set pattern to it all. Now that
he’s mostly blind he still leads us
through the same rituals, walking,
sniffing, and lifting his leg the same
places as always. When you asked how
often I walk the dog, I realized that
all these years he has been walking me
getting me out, making sure I know
what really is important to him, to us.
Expected things — patterns, rituals,
routines, like walks that are ends in
themselves – fit comfortably into our
lives, especially when we get older.
As a dog, he knows all that and has
spent the last few years trying to teach
it to me.


                 Being Lost

I have always been afraid of becoming lost
of not knowing the next turn to take, of not
knowing what is just up ahead, of standing
out there not knowing where I am and not
having someone to ask, or if there happened
to be someone there to ask, not knowing
enough to ask directions without appearing
foolish. Lost, I have always been afraid of
appearing foolish, of standing there saying
something like, “is that Main street or Pearl,”
of letting some of the confusion I feel inside
sneak out, come on display. I still remember
that old man wandering around the college
campus in a hospital gown, one of the ones
that tie in the back, his wasn’t tied. He walked
around asking where he was, where he was
supposed to be, asked anyone, everyone, till
finally, someone took pity and led him back
across the street and up the hill to the place
he was supposed to be. Since then I have been
afraid that sometime, somewhere I will be him
wandering half naked, lost, confused, hoping
that the strangers around me will take pity on
my foolishness – how did I get here, how do I
get back to where I’m supposed to be. I have
always been afraid. I have always been afraid.



Broke another one, spit out the pieces
like all the other times, then went to
the mirror to see what’s left of the smile
I once had, crooked before and now with
a gap in front, like a poorly carved jack –
o-lantern. Teeth are like that, brittle and
sneaky, just in there waiting for the worst
possible moment, their last comment on
my appearance. Pulling a few, the worst
offenders, didn’t work, didn’t help, even
root canals, with all their pain and details,
and caps did little to stave off this moment,
standing in front of my mirror saying, “Oh,
shit” like I said the last time and the time
before that. Teeth, as they break off, fall
out, are bits of our mortality that we keep
spitting out, holding in our hand, standing
in front of the mirror, wondering what comes
next and what it’s going to look like.


J. K. Durick is a retired writing teacher and online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Literary Yard, Vox Poetica, Synchronized Chaos, Madswirl, Pendemic, and Eskimo Pie.


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