Tuesday, November 20, 2018

#41 Backstory of the Poem "Dog Sitting" by Jonathan Kevin Rice

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***This is the forty-first in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

#41 Backstory of the Poem
Dog Sitting
by Jonathan Kevin Rice

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?   A friend of mine asked me if I was able to watch her dogs for her over a three day weekend while she visited family in Oklahoma. It would be later in June. She knew I had watched dogs before for other friends. She has two terrier-mix dogs, who know me well and like me. They’re sweet dogs, so I knew I wouldn’t have a problem with them. I was free, so I agreed. After spending a lot of time with them and it was time for me to leave, I began to say my goodbyes to them, reassuring them that their mom would be home soon that night. (Right:  Two terrier-mix dogs from Wikipedia)
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem?  And please describe the place in great detail.   In my car I listened to a Santana cd on my way home, when the poem started to come to me as I drove. The first thing I did at home was rush to my computer and started typing. I spent a few hours writing, revising, and playing with form and line breaks until I felt like I at least had a rough draft. I saved it and thought I’d return to it the next day. Over the course of that week I revisited the poem several times with the intent of keeping it simple, while trying to capture and express something larger…relationship between dogs, their owners and other people. In this case, the relationship is like family. I don’t even like to use the word owner in this context. I’m the parent of a dog and a cat. They are my children and I treat them as such. That’s the way it should be.
What month and year did you start writing this poem? June 2018
How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?)   With this poem, I didn’t have to do that much revising. It came to me organically. It’s not like I had an idea and I made an effort to write it. It just started coming to me and I went with it. Of course, I needed to craft the poem and ran it by a few poet friends in the process, so a few weeks ensued before I became more comfortable with it.
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem?   I think readers with animals in their families will connect with this poem right away, while other readers may understand it some or not at all. I think this is basically a love poem though, and love is universal. There is always the danger of sentimentalism in a poem that can ruin it for the critical reader. I hope this poem doesn’t cross that line.
Has this poem been published before?  And if so where?   Since it is a new poem, it hasn’t been published and I haven’t submitted it anywhere. I do intend on including it in my next collection though.

Dog Sitting

I listen to a badly produced
Santana bootleg
while you hike a trail
somewhere in Oklahoma.

Your dogs climb on me
like I’m a piece of furniture,
but they lick my face and hands.
They love me, or at least know,

for now, I’m the one feeding them,
walking them, picking up their crap,
playing with them, giving them treats,
talking to them like they understand me,

telling them my problems, what I should
be doing somewhere else, drinking your wine.
They bark at the sounds of footsteps and
chatter of neighbors as they pass your front door

or open the gate out back where your tomatoes
and cucumbers grow. I can tell they wonder where
you are. They wonder with sad eyes as they stare
at the front door sometimes. They know I come in

the back door, but I don’t envision them
longing for me as they long for you.
You are their mom. I am a friend, an uncle.
We can’t wait for your return.

Jonathan K. Rice edited and published Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years and served as a co-editor for Kakalak in 2016. He most recently co-edited Of Burgers & Barrooms, an anthology published by Main Street Rag Publishing in 2017.

       He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015) and Ukulele and Other Poems (2006), as well as the chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. He is the recipient of the 2012 Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award for outstanding service in support of local and regional writers, awarded by Central Piedmont Community College. His art and poetry have appeared in numerous publications. Jonathan lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Contact info:
Jonathan K. Rice
Facebook: Jonathan Kevin Rice


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”

036  October 30, 2018
Gary Glauber’s “The Second Breakfast”

037  November 04, 2018
Heather Forbes-McKeon’s “Melania’s Deaf Tone Jacket”

038 November 11, 2018
Andrena Zawinski’s “Women of the Fields”

039  November 00, 2018
Gordon Hilger’s “Poe”

040 November 16, 2018
Rita Quillen’s “My Children Question Me About Poetry” and “Deathbed Dreams”

041 November 20, 2018
Jonathan Kevin Rice’s “Dog Sitting”

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