The Sentient Creature Feature
{A Bumbershoot Special Feature}



of Tuscon, Arizona is the boon companion of Naomi Benaron, whose short story collection, Love Letters from a Fat Man, published by BkMk Press, won the 2006 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize in Fiction.

Among other prizes and awards, she is the winner of the 2008 Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, the 2008 New Letters Readers’ Choice Award, the 2005 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, and was short-listed for the 2008 Bellwether Prize.


Her fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous in print and online journals. She teaches writing and geology at Pima Community College.

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When an unknown dog approaches, lie down.
Show your belly and rub your back in the dirt. With luck
you will lie in horse dung and emerge fragrant and green.

Do not bite your human or she will send you
to your crate with only outrage in your belly.
She will cook hamburgers so you howl with remorse.

If she brings home another dog, make the saddest eyes
she has ever seen and when she turns her back, bite the dog.
Snivel and yelp and limp as if it bit you first

because if the dog stays, soon
it will displace you in her bed. Especially
if it is small and you are big.

All couches are for sleeping on.
All floors are for placing yourself in the way of
human feet. All beds are for tangling sheets

into impossible knots and all comforters
are to be transformed into fields of feathers and fluff.
The bathtub is cool in summer, but if you hear

the rumble of approaching torrents, leave quickly.
Also leave quickly if she takes you outside, coos,
and turns on the hose. Bathing is to be avoided at all costs

but swimming of your own volition
is to be treasured. Throw yourself at bodies of water
with abandon, especially if dead fish float on the surface.

Toilets make the best water bowls.
Faces are for kissing with your scratchy tongue.
Days should be devoured like a stolen steak

Because life has legs like a rabbit
hopping this way and that.


Ode to My Ears apologies to e. e. cummings

“next to my nose of course my ears i
love them how over cheek and jowl
they flop and keep the blustery breeze from my
eyes and gather to my brain the sound of howl
as i proclaim the day to be wondrous
while in the distance far from my running, pounding paws
i hear distinct from other morning music the thunderous
beat of rabbits! Who hop as if the laws
of gravity were scorned but where
they leap my ears will hear to follow
oh beauteous ears! with no less delicate the wisps of hair
that tickle prickle vibrate sound into the hollow
auditory chamber that shines like pearlèd shell.”
He paused. And added, “if you can name appendage more inimitable,
          then pray do tell.”


Digging Neruda Busqué una gota de agua,/ de miel, de sangre: todo/se ha convertido en piedra
—Pablo Neruda, “Poem VI”
(Scout’s Translation)

I dug for a drop of horse dung
Of mouse turd or tail; all
Had transformed into bone,
Delightful divine bone:
Regurgitated rawhide or buried shoe, the leather
Had burrowed into bone:
Mother’s masticated glasses
Missing meat from kitchen counters
Had morphed as far as marrow.

My teeth tear the liquid light
That sprays from pierced plastic pipe.
Mud bubbles
In the stony puddle:
joy ignites the fire of my Howl.
Newspaper stripped
of “bad dog” whispers,
Gone collars, leashes, crates:
Left only my brilliant mineral teeth
To shine over all the