The Lady And The Tramp

Jan 27, 2017

Today’s poem is "The Lady and the Tramp" by Bruce Guernsey, who lives in Charleston, Illinois and Bethel, Maine. He taught for many years at Eastern Illinois University and "From Rain: Poems 1970-2010" a book of his selected poems, was published in 2012.

He writes: “When my students would write about their aging grandparents, the poems were so often sad and hopeless, especially the ones they wrote about visits to a nursing home. But when we'd discuss a typically grim poem in class, we'd often end up with stories apart from the poem that were damn funny -- or should I say, sadly funny, because what my grandparents did (and, later, my own parents) was often comical, too.”

The Lady and the Tramp

Bruce Guernsey

As my mother’s memory dims,
she’s losing her sense of smell
and can’t remember the toast
blackening the kitchen with smoke
or sniff how nasty the breath of the dog
that follows her yet from room to room,
unable, himself, to hear his own bark.

It’s thus they get around,
the wheezing old hound stone deaf
baying like a smoke alarm
for his amnesiac mistress whose back
from petting him is bent forever
as they shuffle towards the flaming toaster
and split the cindered crisp that’s left.

Poem © 2012 Bruce Guernsey
reprinted from From Rain: Poems 1970-2012,
Ecco Qua Press, by permission of Bruce Guernsey.