Three poems by Rodd Whelpley

A house

is a thing you leave empty

most of the day, except the dog

who spits liquid on the bamboo floor,

upset the moment you depart, licks it up

then dozes everywhere but on his bed.

You don’t know how you know this

as you stand beside your briefcase at the door,

keys pocketed, patting his downy head

as he huff huff huffs what you receive

as a plea for you to stay – see once yourself

how dust settles, or mid-morning light reflects

on that painting. We always come home

you tell him, and wonder if he, too,

is thinking of his young companion

who used to return sooner than the old humans,

his car engine clatter-banging and his bass boost

shivering the window panes to wake

the dog, signal an after-school reunion,

the musk of the boy’s frowzy beard and breath

when their foreheads pressed together,

the dog’s name cooed into the canine’s scratchy ear,

singing a sort of hymn about walking, treats,

a belly rub – and for his snout – some kisses.

The vet said dogs don’t perceive what’s a short time

or a long one. A brief eternity, perhaps, is something

to believe in. Your hand twists the knob. Be good,

you say to the dog and to the air. Be good.

Another Elegy for the Arctic

Now, I’m unsure who either of us needs.

Debits nearly never match the credits,