The Sentient Creature Feature
{A Bumbershoot Special Feature}

Peter Swanson

lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he writes poetry and detective stories.

Among his credits are Asimov’s Science Fiction, Bumbershooot, Measure, Unsplendid, and The Vocabula Review.

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Man and Dog in Park

Between them the arc of
   a tennis ball made wet
   by morning dew and spit.
That and unassuming love.

Except for a difference
   in each castextra far
   or low or highthe pure
act itself remains,

each time it is carried out,
   about the same. Arm back,
   a fleeting blur, attack,
the clenching jaw, an about-

turn, and then, like a drill
   perfected, it reoccurs.
   Only the sky alters.
There is an occasional

variation: the man
   pretends to throw the ball,
   but holds on instead. Fall-
ing for this fraud, dog spins

beneath blank skies, agog.
   How often will he see
   a throw as certainty?
How often will this dog

chase nothingness, confused?
   A guess: as often as
   the man, by each fake toss,
will be, each time, amused.