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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

    By Devon Balwit

    November 6, 2019
    • 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.

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