“He who chases his own tail has a full circle moment.” ~ Issa Shih Tzu
I’ve got my nose in the best book!
Why Do I Chase Thee: Classic Poetry for Dogs from Elizabeth Basset Browning and Other Canine Masters by Jessica Swaim and Chet Phillips is tail-waggin’ brilliant and totally blows my ears back. Can you dig it?
Finally, finally, dogs have their day and their say. For far too long, silly humans have discounted their random bow wows, arfs, woofs, yips, and yaps. Here’s proof that some of these mutts were actually sniffing out sonnets and licking limericks with the best of them.
Make no bones about it, this snappy little volume features sixteen of the most celebrated poetic pooches of all time, including four-time Poolitzer Prize winner Rover Frost, iambic puptameter whizzard William Shakespaw, haiku master Issa Shih Tzu, and the somewhat repentant Dogden Dash, who knows just what to do with a rhymed puplet:
Judging by their ankles, here’s my educated guess:
The FedEx man tastes better than the guy from UPS.
Now, I’ve enjoyed Jessica’s children’s books all along (remember when she came to the 2011 Poetry Potluck with spooky “I-Scream”?), but I had NO IDEA she was so wickedly funny. We’re talkin’ supremely clever laugh-out-loud parodies of well-known poems with devilishly delicious diction, taking spoofdom to new howling heights.
Since her rapier wit is on full tilt throughout, it’s impossible to pick favorites, but consider Emily Doginson’s “Skunk is the Thing with Stink Bombs,” Edgar Allan Pug’s “The Maven” (ouch!), Rover Frost’s “Sizing Up Shoes on a Soulful Evening,” and Droolin’ Thomas’s “Do Not Annoy Me with Your Constant Yap.” She had me at the titles, and even the bios of the poets
spayed slayed me.
Emily Doginson, a skittish saluki mix, loved to spy on passersby from the front window of her family’s luxurious digs in Scramherst, Massachusetts. When visitors rang the doorbell, shy Emily retreated to her crate, refusing to emerge except for choice bits of chopped liver. Paper-trained from an early age, she wrote copious letters to the world, most of which were returned for insufficient postage. Ultimately, she selected her own society, then shut the doggy door.
Today, three of Jessica’s hounds of renown are here to bark to the beat. Sit, stay, and put your paws together for William Shakespaw, William Corgi Williams, and P. P. Cummings (a dalmation with ever so spotty punctuation). Chow down!
* * *
SHALL I COMPARE THEE TO A STEAK FILLET?
Shall I compare thee to a steak fillet?
Thou art more flaccid and more apt to spoil;
Fat cows do graze on sweet alfalfa hay,
And nibble grass from rich organic soil,
Perchance with tender offspring at their sides;
They roam the range and breathe the freshen’d air,
Ere men with ill intent do smite their hides,
Then cook their flesh, well done or medium rare;
But thy aquatic diet makes thee frail,
From pucker’d lip to piteous dorsal fin,
With naught but bones betwixt thy head and tail,
And Death’s cold kiss upon thy scaly skin;
So long as men may stoop to fill my dish,
I pray for steak, not thee, O slimy fish.
* * *
WILLIAM CORGI WILLIAMS
OH, AND BY THE WAY
I have gobbled
you left on
the kosher pickle,
then threw them
on the new rug
in the foyer.
but was white
choice of colors?
THE RED FIRE HYDRANT
so much depends
a red fire
in the sun
beside the relieved
* * *
ANYDOG LIVED IN A BOWWOW HOUSE
anydog lived in a bowwow house
with schnoodle guinea pig lovebird mouse
lick by muzzle and twitch by dream
he sniffed his fluffies he whizzed his stream
schnoodle and anydog scruffyandspot
trotted one day to a vacant lot
fetch by frisbee and toy by squeak
they ran their zoomies they growled their speak.
anydog strayed to a hot wire fence
(lift leg aim fire dumb by dense)
anydog’s Winkie most magical thing
yip yap howl yowl zip zap zing
* * *
WHY DO I CHASE THEE: Classic Poetry for Dogs from Elizabeth Basset Browning and Other Canine Masters
written by Jessica Swaim
illustrated by Chet Phillips
published by Gibbs Smith, March 2014
Humorous Poetry for cultured canines and unleashed humans, high school age and up, 88pp.
“The book is aimed at the discriminating dog, the well-read dog owner, and anybody with twelve bucks to spare.” (Jeb’s DogBlog)
Enjoy the official book trailer, where Jessica reads the title poem:
* * *
ANOTHER NIP OR TWO
- Jessica Swaim’s Website
- Chet Phillips’ Website and Etsy Shop
- Howlin’ good interview at Jeb’s DogBlog (Marianne McKiernan)
- Meet Jessica’s dogs Kiva and Odin at Coffee with a Canine
* * *
Kara is hosting today’s Roundup at Rogue Anthropologist. Flee your kennel and race over to sniff out the poetic goodies being served up in the blogosphere. Go fetch!
*Literary Dog Portraits from Why Do I Chase Thee posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2014 Jessica Swaim, illustrations © 2014 Chet Phillips, published by Gibbs Smith. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.