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Michael Van Walleghen

Van_WalleghenMichael Van Walleghen (born 1938) is an American poet. He has published six books of poetry; his second, More Trouble With the Obvious (1981), was the winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets. He has also received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, first prize in the Borestone Mountain Poetry Awards, a Pushcart Prize, and several grants from the Illinois Arts Council. Before retirement he was a Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was the first director of the MFA in Creative Writing program created there in 2003. Van Walleghen began his academic career at Wichita State University. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

My mood from Wednesday’s little moment of awareness seems to still be hanging on. The final words of this poem always make me sad…

* * * * *

`

Collie 2

Happiness

Weep for what little things could make them glad.
—Robert Frost, “Directive”

Melvin,
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?

Today,
as if to please me,
he has torn apart
and scattered
everywhere
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
together
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—

fulgent,
blinding,
aflame
with news of the Resurrection,
I give him a biscuit
instead.

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

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

And really,
apropos of bliss,
happiness
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,
dancing
nervously
as I turn away
again,
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.

 

 

(Picture Credits: Michael Van Walleghen — www.illinois.gov / Collie — buzzsharer.com)

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