Old dog, nose pointed to the ground,
any canine can howl music in the moonlight,
but you enter this City of Light,
and walk like one of the great dogs
who travel from Clichy to Paris,
observing all the ancient rituals,
stopping to make your path, as if your name
weren't Rex but Verlaine; and the poet who named you
petted your sleek marble, the scent of the Left Bank
still in your paws, you, the muse for poetry.
Your careful motion never grows weary
of this ancient world. One forefoot, then the next slowly,
as if everywhere you step is home.
The milk of stars above, the bone of your dreams
buried in the backyard of a painter
who feeds you bread dipped in coffee.
His hands smell of canvases, radiant places
where he stroked a million glittering dots
to dazzle even an old dog like you,
part basset hound, part bulldog.
If he grew tired of you, he never betrayed it
in his rudeness. You wear on your body
the great odors of the earth, the color of sienna,
leaves like fur that can't ever be combed back,
a redbone stammer in a howl, which you respectfully
break off, as if his eyes whiten in worry
you'll wake his daughter sleeping. A dog of intelligence
whistled at to return, your name Verlaine
dark and swirling, you scent the soundless track
in the Parisian night--the star of your own film noir
wagging your tail furiously in profile,
idiosyncratic nose sniffing new territory.
In your heart runs the River Seine.