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detail of Boy with a Dog by Pablo Picasso, 1905

Sometimes I Wince at the Weight of your Hand

Three poems about calling and obedience

Devon Balwit

  • Laura F

    Absolutely arrested by this triptych. My goodness, why am I only learning the name of this poet now? Amazing.

My Measure

No better than a dog, I am
easily fooled and overruled, a slave
to my sack of gut, nose aquiver
with the season. Sometimes, I wince
at the weight of your hand; sometimes,
I importune into whatever cleft
comes closest. I am not the best exemplar
of my breed and can only hope myself
familiar enough to keep my place,
endearingly fond, so that while I stare
mournfully at the front door,
you summon me from the back.


Many called but few chosen, we eye each other,
clutching our brief-cased particulars.

Spit-shined, not much separates us but accidents
of hue and coiffure. A late-comer, I cradle

a thin dossier, so light my briefcase, hurled,
would hardly dent drywall. I hope it doesn’t

come to that. Did they answer an advertisement,
or were they summoned like me, in a whisper

of red letters? Some, nonchalant or good
fakers, chat. I keep to myself, not sharing

the lingo. A single affright and I’d run.
Would something pursue, all eyes and wing-blur,

or would I exit to a squeak of shoes
across the vast antechamber’s waxed solitude?

The Call

When the call comes, goodness,
what a clamor all around.

I can hardly hear, so I step out,
cupping a hand to my ear.

Come again? I say. The reply
is faint. I proceed, assuming

I’ll understand as I go. Not
a solicitor, this someone

seems to know me. I strain
until static drowns

our connection. Perhaps,
he’ll try later.

Boy with a Dog by Pablo Picasso, 1905

Boy with a Dog by Pablo Picasso, 1905

Contributed By

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of six chapbooks and three collections. Her individual work can be found in journals such as The Cincinnati Review, apt, Posit, Peacock Journal, Eclectica, SWWIM, and more.