ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   G.D. Anderson
   Zack Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Zachary C. Bush
   Tony Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   HélÚne Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Karen E. Cole
   Merrill Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amelie Frank
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Tao Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Lois P. Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Bernard Kennedy
   Raud Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   Pete Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Anthony Mason
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   David McIntire
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Robert John Miller
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Greggory Moore
   Carl Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
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   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Kristena Prater
   Luke Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
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   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
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   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
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   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
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   Lorraine Sautner
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   Sondra L. Scott
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   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
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   Dahn Shaulis
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   June Shiitake
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   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
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   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
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   Clinton Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
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   Karr Stratynberg
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   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
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   Jonathan Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Allen Taylor
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    The Unarmed Man
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   Lynne Thompson
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   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
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    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
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   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
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   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
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   Gene van Troyer
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   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
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   Sharieff Walters
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   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
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   Kelley White
   Leigh White
   J.T. Whitehead
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   Robert D. Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Alicia Winski
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   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
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   Julie Yi
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   Gregory T. Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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Beth Escott Newcomer
April 2014
   

 

Watching Guy and Lady

Im no expert on canine behavior, but I do know a few things about dogs.
I make it a point to catch the Westminster Kennel Club finals each February on Animal Planet. I know my breeds and have my favorites: the spaniels, the poodles, the beagles, and the terriers. Each one carries its own singular message confidently around the ringtail held high, a bounce in the step, a sly grin on soft black lips, as if to say, Pick me. Im the one.
I say, as if to say because those dogs arent actually saying the words. They are putting ideas in our heads. Which is no small feat in itself.
When I was single, I had a cocker spaniel-poodle mix. Like most clever dogs, Jorge could tell me when he needed to go out, when there was a stranger in the yard, or when it was 5 p.m. and time to stop working. But he could also say, this water is funky; please change it, and yes, Id like some of that steak but a smaller piece, and lets walk on the other side of the street where its shady, all without speaking a word. Projecting mental pictures with those wide set brown eyes, using cockapoo telepathy alone, he commanded a remarkably precise vocabulary.
Whats more, he was such a good listener! As evolved and self-contained as any Bodhisattva, that suave little guy would proudly squire me around the parkan attentive witness to my innermost thoughts and a quiet, constant advocate in spite of all my failings. Adoring my every iota.
When Tom (then my fianc) pointed at the pooch one day and said, Him or me. I didnt know what to do. I begged him to reconsider but he was firm. Said he never liked dogs, that it was nothing against Jorge. But I think he was jealous of the doting little being who never left my side. That night I cried myself into a fitful sleep, and in the morning when I still couldnt decide, I flipped a coin to let Fate make the call. Tails you lose, little fella.
Ive often questioned that decision, wondering if I would have gladly broken my engagement to Tom the human if Jorge the canine could have somehow produced those three little words a girl longs to hear.
But thats not the story I want to tell.
As talented and wise as Jorge may have been, even in his most artful moments, he remained firmly rooted in the realm of above average.
In the case of my neighbor Guy and his dog Lady, though, there is something entirely different going on. Something beyond average. Something unearthly.
My next-door neighbor is teaching his dog to speak.
I dont mean in the way where the master commands, Speak, and the well-trained canine produces an energetic bark, then catches her treat on the fly. Nor is he training her to mimic human sounds in howls, ruffs, and whimpers, like some operatic soloist phonetically sounding out the Italian in an aria with no notion of the meaning. No. Guy, my neighbor, is teaching Lady, his red Vizsla, to use English words in the same way we do. Teaching her to use her teeth, tongue, and palate to form syllables. And as unlikely as this may seem, he appears to be making progress.
Our houses make a pair of twin model homes with mirrored floor plans and adjoining pie-shaped backyards, here at the end of a cul-de-sac, in the Willowbranch subdivision. The common layout of our houses and properties has made it easy for me to monitor the evolving state of things at the neighbors.
When we first moved in, back when I still worked those crazy hours at the hospital, I rarely saw Guy with Ladyexcept when I might catch a glimpse of them in the TV room, late at night, curled up together on the couch, cheek to jowl, limbs entwined. In contrast to such a sweet, almost romantic scene, I had observed Guys wife Millie on my rare days off, jerking the dog by her collar out the back door and into the yard, slapping the dog, scolding the dog for no apparent reason, ranting in her face: I know what youre up to. Do you take me for a fool?
I was impressed by the way Lady endured the abuse without expression. She simply stared at the wall, just over the shoulder of the red-faced woman, until Millie exhausted herself and went back in the house to pour herself an afternoon highball.
The first time it happened, I told Tom about it. I couldnt tell if she was yelling at the dog or talking to herself.
What do you expect? he waved me off, annoyed, as if he was stating the obvious. Shes frustrated. Shes a red-hot woman with a beige husband. As an RV salesman, its part of his job to be able to size up others in a heartbeat. And yet, Tom seemed to have virtually no interest in much more than the surfaces of things. If you ever tried to dig deep, you lost him.
The thing is, he was right about Millie and Guy. Maybe I should have suspected something in his remark, but at the time I was marveling at how uncharacteristically astute his observation was.
True. Millie was the more social of the two and liked to come around our house on Saturday afternoons to shoot the breeze with Tom and me. She was almost as tall as Tom, and lanky like him, and she had the same dark hair and flinty eyes as he didthey couldve been siblings.
And Guywell, besides the times when I spied him in his evening trysts with Lady, the only other proof of the mans existence was when I would see him heading off to work, pulling out of his driveway in that beat-up Civic in the morning and pulling it back up the driveway at night.
Or as the butt of most of the caustic jokes in Millies beer-fueled comedy routines.
One day she told me, Hes happy to be a mousy, invisible man. All he cares about is the TV, the First National Bank, and that damned dog. Then she reached in the fridge and snapped open a can of Budweiser before ranting on. The fact was she had become bored with her own list of complaints. In a nutshell, nothing else was going to happen here. Ive got to go where theres a little life churning around in the old cosmic Petri dish, she said, stirring the air with an upraised index finger, making the whoopee gesture, then picked up her beer, raised it in a quick little toast, and took a gulp. That was last month, just before she quit her receptionist job at the Wild Hair salon and took off for good, leaving Guy and Lady behind.
It must have been pure spite that drove Millie to clean out the house, to take with her every last stick of furniture or adornment. In those first evenings after she left him, I pitied Guy as I watched him through our perfectly aligned living room windows, stretched out in the now utterly spare TV room, spooning with Lady on a cheap lawn chair, the screen images from a portable TV dancing around the bare walls like reflections off a motel pool lit up at night. Poor Guy, I thought to myself back then. At least he has Lady.
But I no longer pity the man. Millies leaving was his new beginning, I see that now. Clearly, it was the catalyst for this great experiment: teaching Lady to express herself in speech. And its been good for me too. Gives me a reason to get up in the morning ever since I stopped going to my job at the hospital.
Though it seems like a lifetime, that was only eighteen days ago, the first time I saw Guy tutoring Lady. The way the whole thing started, I thought it was a dream:
All through the night before, Id wandered the house, punished with insomnia. Just before the sun came up, I lay down on the bed and finally drifted off. In that dusky hypnagogic hour, I dreamed I was forced to give up my left leg.
Naturally, I balked when the authorities first arrived at my door to collect my legBut Im still alive! Im still using it! I told thembut there were official-looking documents and threats of incarceration. So I removed it myself and marveled at how heavy and awkward it was, that separated appendage. As he took the leg from me, the official began to bow mechanically like a novelty bowing bird, repeating rhythmically, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, good Lady. Th. Ang. Kew. Thang. Kew. Th. Ank. Yu. Good, Lady, until I woke up to the realization that those strange syllables were floating in my window on a clammy morning breeze.
Th. Th. Th. Thang. Kew. Like this Lady, Th. Th. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth, like this, see? Now blow a little puff of air. Th. Th. Keep going. Ang. Ang. Ang. Kew. Kew. Kew. Now put it all together. Thang. Kew. Cmon, girl. Just try it one time. Good, Lady. Thang. Kew. Thank you.
That was the first time I heard the sound of Guys phlegmatic monotone advancing that syllabic repetition. I sat up in bed and looked out the window, but that unruly forsythia bush obstructed my view. Tom left it untrimmed intentionally, to add privacy to the bedroom. (You know, they can see right in, hed said.) With curiosity driving me, I dragged my headache to the chair by the kitchen window and looked out.
There was Guy, dressed in a short-sleeved dress shirt, tie, and wrinkled khakisbut taller and leaner than I remembered. Hed slicked back his hair with a side part and might have had shaving nicks beading up on his neckbut there was a kind of grace in his movements as he presided over a rickety card table arranged with a childs abacus, two plastic dolls, a pile of colored silk scarves, and a stack of flash cardsenunciating and demonstrating to his rapt audience of one.
And regally perched on a plywood box, that beautiful and attentive red dog, born for long stretch-out runs along the Russian steppesLadywould let out the occasional whine or whimper, exciting Guy who, in turn, became more and more effusive in his praise. As this scene played out, my neighbor seemed to stand up straighter, seemed more commanding than Id ever imagined he could be, and Lady became ever more elegant in my eyes.
Until that gray, humid morning, there had been no evidence that Guy was the slightest bit interesting. Now I found myself intrigued.
I watched it all from my a front row seat, watched as he ran through a color exercise, holding up one of the scarves saying, Yel. O. Yel. O. Yellow. Then holding up the next one, Bluuuuuuu. Buh. L. Uuuuuuu. Blue. Then the red one. Then the green one. Now a drill, a quiz for Lady. Hed say, Yellow, and shed jump off her box and trot over to the table and rut out the yellow hanky. Then shed do the same for all the other colors.
How did Lady know?
And didnt Guy know dogs were color-blind?
And how was it Lady wasnt fooled when Guy said, Pur. Pul. Purple? Instead, she just sat there like the Sphinx, because there was no purple scarf. Guy ran over to kiss and hug her, ecstatic with pride: She had not fallen for his clever trick. In spite of myself, I found myself proud of her too.
As the curriculum on that first day drew to a close, I watched them move on to the most difficult part of the lesson: It was Ladys turn to speak. Guy held up the yellow scarf, and Lady let out a sharp bark, and Guy said, No, Lady. Yel. Lo. Yel. Lo. Yellow. Lets try it again. Lady failed. Again and again. Guy finally gave up, looked at his watch, and stepped up onto the stoop and in the back door, with Lady on his heels. It was nearly 8:30 a.m.
I walked to the front of my house at the same pace he and Lady walked through theirs. I watched him in the kitchen as his head bobbed down to put food in Ladys bowl and then up again as he filled up her water bowl at the faucet. His head going up, then down and up again, the three of us moving through our respective houses, arriving at our tandem living room windows simultaneously, in time for me to watch Lady, seen from the side view, propped up in the street-facing picture window, paws on the ledge, watching him exit the front door, head down the walk and climb into his ancient green Civic with the smashed in side and back down the driveway. Off again to his middle-management job at the nearby branch of the First National Bank.
Once he was gone, Lady pushed away and disappeared into the house, presumably for her first of many naps. And I, still exhausted from the sleeplessness of night before, called in sick and headed back to bed.

Since then, watching Guy and Lady has become my own ritual. Opening a can of peaches for my breakfast, I pull the chair over to the kitchen window and observe man and dog, measuring their progress day by day. Guy still doesnt know that I watch them, but Im pretty sure Lady does. Every so often, just for a split second, she shoots me a knowing sidelong glance. Its our little secret. If I havent come right out and said it already, she is a very smart dog. Maybe even Lassie smart. Ill bet she and Guy could make good money in show business. Maybe she could do commercials, with the right agent of course. I mean shes got the smarts and the looks. Come to think of it, maybe thats been Guys plan from the start. Maybe hes working on an act for Vegas, practicing so diligently every morning. Maybe he wants to get out of Dodge; but unlike the rest of us, he has an exit strategy.
Or maybe Ive had the wrong idea all along. Ive been fooled before, God knows. My eyes, my ears, even my heart can be deceived.
Like when, in the old days, on those Saturday afternoons, Millie would say about men, Ya cant live with em, and ya cant shoot em, and I would laugh at the joke every time. I believed she meant it, and that she was right. We didnt really need them anyway, we cheerfully agreed many times. But as it turns out, that wasnt really true in Millies case after all. Wouldnt you know it: The Tuesday after she left Guy for good, Tom left me without a word or a note and hooked up with her in Reno.
Heres how I found out where they were: Nineteen days ago, Id stopped at the market on my way home from work and, while standing in the produce aisle of the Safeway, looking over the quality of the first spring peaches, casually eavesdropping on a pair of shoppers, I learned the whole story

Did you hear about that Millie Vincent? She came into some money when her mother died and just up and left her husband. That little vixen took off and got herself a condo out West, in Reno. Then she sent for him.
Sent for who?
Tom Harden. Stole him right from under the nose of his wife. They were neighbors, you know.

I left my grocery basket where it stood, walked out of the store, across the parking lot, and didnt start crying until Id put on my seat belt and had started the car. I turned up the radio full blast so it would drown out all the yelling I was doing. I pounded the steering wheel with my fists as hard as I could untilfailing to break it or my handsthe car ran completely out of gas. Which made me stop my wailing and start laughing.
Finally, when all my emotions were spent, I left the car where it sat and walked all the way back to Willowbranch and up our cul-de-sac, and I havent been out of the house since. When I ran out of food, I began working my way through the canned goods, the Vicodin, and the medicinal whiskey Tom had stored in the basementthe emergency supplies left over from the Y2K scare.
But theres no need to worry about me now. It isnt such a bad occupation, watching Guy and Lady. This morning, its an easy drill. Hes running the ooo words. You know, tooth and chew and food. Each word precipitating an elaborate charade performed by Guy, sometimes with props and a corresponding response by Lady, as if to say, Im trying my best. For her, these are easiest lessons because she can just utter a small low oooo of a howl and still be rewarded as if shed made a full pronunciation.
Look at the time; its almost 8:30 a.m. Time for Guy to fold up the card table, to feed and water the dog. Time for Lady to follow him in the back door and through the house. Time for me to follow along.
As usual, Guy pulls on his sport jacket and walks out the front door. Lady stands on her hind legs and supports herself with her forepaws leaning on the sill of the street-facing picture window. Guy climbs into his Civic. Lady stoically looks on. But now today, something new: Guy sticks his head out the window and blows Lady a kiss, Dating Game-style, then looks away, over his shoulder to back down the driveway. A new twist. Sweet.
I think Ill go back to bed...but wait! Whats with Lady? Shes changed positions. Now shes standing in the side view window directly across from me. She locks me in a stare, and as soon as I sense it, her golden eyes roll up slightly. She spreads her soft black lips in a distinctively human smile and, with a touch of playful irony, mouths the words, Isnt he dreamy? before pushing away from the sill and disappearing into the house.

THE END

copyright 2014 Beth Escott Newcomer