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Corey Marks

Corey Marks

Corey Marks is author of The Radio Tree (New Issues, 2012), winner of the Green Rose Prize, and Renunciation (University of Illinois Press, 2000), a National Poetry Series selection. He teaches at the University of North Texas.

The Dogs

I see them when they slip
from the trees at the field's far edge
to gaze back on the estranged
human world. Something wild

tumbles in the dogs now, if wild
is the word for a trust broken
like a key in its lock. They have
their own affections, these animals

that once made their way across a yard
at the call of a name, a sharp tone
hooked in the ear. What happened
to the words that no longer snag

and worry, the names no longer theirs?  
Now, when a gate lolls open, its invitation
cross-hatched against snow, the dogs
question distant forms bleating

unsheltered in the pasture, question
doors shut against the evening,
coils of smoke unraveling like attention
from black-shingled houses. They read

the back of a human head for distraction
the way they once watched a face
for other signs, read neglect
as opportunity, a question answered

in blood smirched across snow.
How cruel. How resilient.
In the dusk, the scattered houses
gutter like coals the dogs once

learned to skirt around.
Which door was theirs? How
can it matter; their world
is untranslatable now. If I crossed

the field, would they recognize
my palm held out as an offering,
a threat? I don't even feel human
looking at them settled now

in the curve of a toppled trunk,
three lashes pierced into an eye.

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