Christal Ann Rice Cooper on July 22, 2019

Christal Ann Rice Cooper on July 22, 2019

Thursday, May 9, 2019

#104 Backstory of the Poem "How to tell my dog I"m dying" by Richard Fox



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*** The CRC Blog welcomes submissions from published and unpublished poets for BACKSTORY OF THE POEM series.  Contact CRC Blog via email at caccoop@aol.com or personal Facebook messaging at https://www.facebook.com/car.cooper.7

****This is #104 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. 

#104 Backstory of the Poem
“How to tell my dog I’m dying”
by Richard Fox
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? In 2016, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My wife, children, family, and friends understand what that means. When I die, they will know why my physical remains have disappeared. 


       How do I explain this to my dog? Does he comprehend how sick I am? Human and dog are bound by miraculous ties. We share our lives in a unique way.
My approach is to free-write on my computer, then pick away at it until I’m satisfied to call it a draft. I bring my drafts to my writing group (been together since 1998) for feedback. Then I work the poem until I’m ready to “abandon” it. “How to tell my dog I’m dying” followed a different path. Version #1 was submitted to journals. In the interim, I had a manuscript consultation for You’re my favorite horse (published by Big Table Publishing in 2017). 

The poem was singled out and we broke it down in great detail. I looked with fresh eyes and the result was the final version.The poem is free verse. I never considered a traditional form.
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail. I was on a break in treatment between brain radiation and chemotherapy for my lungs. We went to Sanibel Island and my dog & I walked the beach daily. Mortality and the scope of pending treatment occupied my thoughts. My dog has a special expression that he shows only me. He’s communicating love and happiness. We’d stop and watch the waves, dolphins, and pelicans. I talked to him and he listened using a paw or a kiss to answer. I told him I was sick and dying, that I would leave him one day, that there was no choice. What could he perceive through his senses? What do dogs understand about the cycle of life?
I sat on the couch with my dog next to me sleeping. He knows when I’m writing and when I finish a session. The poem came easily. It was time to get the words on paper where I would learn what I was really thinking. Once on the page, the distress lost most of its power.
What month and year did you start writing this poem? September 2016 is my best estimate.
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?) I can’t write with pen and paper. Disability issue.]
I free-write then pick, pick, pick at the poem. Imagine I had a working draft, a draft, and then version #1. Later, i ripped the poem apart, brought it back to my writing group, and ended with the finial version.

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version? And can you share them with us? I cut many lines that I loved. It hurt but I knew it made the poem stronger. One of the challenges of writing poetry is knowing that only the vital words will remain, that I cannot fall in love with lines. If a word does not do a singular job, it must go. Brevity with clarity is the goal.  
The cut lines jump out when comparing the two versions.

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? The poem is direct. With all poems, I want the reader to find find themselves in the space between the words. The images should be revealing for reader and writer.
Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? The last verse. It’s fear without answer.
Has this poem been published before? And if so where? Soul-Lit http://soul-lit.com/poems/V15/ 9.
Anything you would like to add? Thank you for this opportunity, Car.
how to tell my dog I'm dying
Bailey smells blood, discharge from my incisions. He crawls on his belly, ears pulled back
when I groan, pillow to side, after a cough.
Bailey curls his back to my waist, sniffs and stares in my face, watches me spit into a bowl.
I need the toilet. He leaps off the bed,
trails me to the bathroom. I think back to his puppy days, following him until he peed.
When I die, I want him to watch over me, to know that my body became a corpse, to know I didn't just leave him.
Richard H. Fox dreams three-decker rainbows encircle The Woo. When not writing about rock ’n roll or youthful transgressions, his poems focus on cancer drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. He is the author of three poetry collections: Time Bomb (2013), wandering in puzzle boxes (2015), You’re my favorite horse (2017) and a chapbook: The Complete Uncle Louie Poems (2017). The winner of the 2017 Frank O’Hara Prize, he seconds Stanley Kunitz' motion that people in Worcester are "provoked to poetry.”
smallpoetatlarge.com




BACKSTORY OF THE POEM LINKS

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
Juliet Cook’s “ARTERIAL DISCOMBOBULATION”

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”

042 November 22, 2018
Haroldo Barbosa Filho’s “Mountain”

043  November 27, 2018
Megan Merchant’s “Grief Flowers”

044 November 30, 2018
Jonathan P Taylor’s “This poem is too neat”

045  December 03, 2018
Ian Haight’s “Sungmyo for our Dead Father-in-Law”

046 December 06, 2018
Nancy Dafoe’s “Poem in the Throat”

047 December 11, 2018
Jeffrey Pearson’s “Memorial Day”

048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
Jennifer Martelli’s “Anniversary”

O50  December 19, 2018
Joseph Ross’s For Gilberto Ramos, 15, Who Died in the Texas Desert, June 2014”

051 December 23, 2018
“The Persistence of Music”
by Anatoly Molotkov

052  December 27, 2018
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

053  December 28, 2018
“Grand Finale”
by Renuka Raghavan

054  December 29, 2018
“Aftermath”
by Gene Barry

055 January 2, 2019
“&”
by Larissa Shmailo

056  January 7, 2019
“The Seamstress:
by Len Kuntz

057  January 10, 2019
"Natural History"
by Camille T Dungy


058  January 11, 2019
“BLOCKADE”
by Brian Burmeister

059  January 12, 2019
“Lost”
by Clint Margrave

060 January 14, 2019
“Menopause”
by Pat Durmon

061 January 19, 2019
“Neptune’s Choir”
by Linda Imbler

062  January 22, 2019
“Views From the Driveway”
by Amy Barone

063  January 25, 2019
“The heron leaves her haunts in the marsh”
by Gail Wronsky

064  January 30, 2019
“Shiprock”
by Terry Lucas

065 February 02, 2019
“Summer 1970, The University of Virginia Opens to Women in the Fall”
by Alarie Tennille

066 February 05, 2019
“At School They Learn Nouns”
by Patrick Bizzaro

067  February 06, 2019
“I Must Not Breathe”
by Angela Jackson-Brown

068 February 11, 2019
“Lunch on City Island, Early June”
by Christine Potter

069 February 12, 2019
“Singing”
by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum

070 February 14, 2019
“Daily Commute”
by Christopher P. Locke

071 February 18, 2019
“How Silent The Trees”
by Wyn Cooper


072 February 20, 2019
“A New Psalm of Montreal”
by Sheenagh Pugh

073 February 23, 2019
“Make Me A Butterfly”
by Amy Barbera

074 February 26, 2019
“Anthem”
by Sandy Coomer

075 March 4, 2019
“Shape of a Violin”
by Kelly Powell

076 March 5, 2019
“Inward Oracle”
by J.P. Dancing Bear

077 March 7, 2019
“I Broke My Bust Of Jesus”
by Susan Sundwall

078 March 9, 2019
“My Mother at 19”
by John Guzlowski

079 March 10, 2019
“Paddling”
by Chera Hammons Miller

080 March 12, 2019
“Of Water and Echo”
by Gillian Cummings

081   082   083    March 14, 2019
“Little Political Sense”   “Crossing Kansas with Jim
Morrison”  “The Land of Sky and Blue Waters”
by Dr. Lindsey Martin-Bowen

084 March 15, 2019
“A Tune To Remember”
by Anna Evans

085 March 19, 2019
“At the End of Time (Wish You Were Here)
by Jeannine Hall Gailey

086 March 20, 2019
“Garden of Gethsemane”
by Marletta Hemphill

087 March 21, 2019
“Letters From a War”
by Chelsea Dingman

088 March 26, 2019
“HAT”
by Bob Heman

089 March 27, 2019
“Clay for the Potter”
by Belinda Bourgeois

#090 March 30, 2019
“The Pose”
by John Hicks

#091 April 2, 2019
“Last Night at the Wursthaus”
by Doug Holder

#092 April 4, 2019
“Original Sin”
by Diane Lockward

#093 April 5, 2019
“A Father Calls to his child on liveleak”
by Stephen Byrne

#094 April 8, 2019
“XX”
by Marc Zegans

#095 April 12, 2019
“Landscape and Still Life”
by Marjorie Maddox

#096 April 16, 2019
“Strawberries Have Been Growing Here for Hundreds of
Years”
by Mary Ellen Lough

#097 April 17, 2019
“The New Science of Slippery Surfaces”
by Donna Spruijt-Metz

#098 April 19, 2019
“Tennessee Epithalamium”
by Alyse Knorr

#099 April 20, 2019
“Mermaid, 1969”
by Tameca L. Coleman

#100 April 21, 2019
“How Do You Know?”
by Stephanie

#101 April 23, 2019
“Rare Book and Reader”
by Ned Balbo

#102 April 26, 2019
“THUNDER”
by Jefferson Carter

#103 May 01, 2019
“The sight of a million angels”
by Jenneth Graser

#104 May 09, 2019
“How to tell my dog I’m dying”
by Richard Fox

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