May 23, 2024

“Happiness” by Michael Van Walleghen

From In the Black Window: New and Selected Poems.

© University of Illinois Press

the large collie
who lives in the red house
at the end of my daily run
is happy,
happy to see me
even now,
in February—
a month of low skies
and slowly melting snow.

His yard
has turned almost
entirely to mud—
but so what?

as if to please me,
he has torn apart
and scattered
a yellow plastic bucket
the color of forsythia
or daffodils . . .

And now,
in a transport
of cross-eyed
muddy ecstasy,
he has placed
his filthy two front paws
on the top pipe
of his sagging cyclone fence—

drooling a little,
his tail
wagging furiously,
until finally,
as if I were God’s angel himself—

with news of the Resurrection,
I give him a biscuit

Which is fine with Melvin—
who is wise,
by whole epochs
of evolution,
beyond his years.

what you can get,
that’s his motto . . .

And really,
apropos of bliss,
and the true rapture,
what saint
could tell us half as much?

Even as he drops
back down
into the cold
dog-shit muck
he’ll have to live in
every day
for weeks on end perhaps
unless it freezes . . .

whining now,
as I turn away
to leave him there

the same today
as yesterday—

one of the truly wretched
of this earth
whose happiness
is almost more
than I can bear.

Finally, a poem that makes sense!


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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