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Three-Legged Dog by Donald Caswell

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A three-legged dog is a survivor. A tough, sure sign that life is difficult. Yet sometimes, leaping for a frisbee or bristling at the sight of a cat, he will become graceful, his fourth leg magically visible as he is whole again. The poems of Don Caswell do just that – they create the phantom limb that makes us see the world not only as it is, but as it might be. They take the ordinary, even the ludicrous, and give it the grace of new perspective. -- Judith Kitchen

I've enjoyed reading Donald Caswell's poems here and there for over twenty years, so it's a great pleasure to see them all together in this immensely readable book. Three-Legged Dog combines the pleasures of story-telling, country music, and sophisticated lyric poetry in a lively and always surprising package. There's a lot of sorrow in these poems, but what the reader comes away with is the pleasure of a new and convincing voice. -- Peter Meinke

 

How It Works

When I step into a brook
I become the brook. Fish
cannot burrow
into the soft rock
of my feet. Lying on a hillside
I become the hillside. Rain
runs from the hill that is not me
onto the hill that is me
and into the valley I will be
if I move. Window,
door, pathway, light: it's all
a matter of positioning. I am
always becoming
the world. We
create it every day. You know
this is true
and will always be true
whether I write these words
or go to sleep.
Whether we make love
or argue late into the night
about things
that do not matter
that will not matter
that cannot matter
unless we argue.

 

My Generation

I cannot tell you what it means to be
a member of my generation
except to say that a young boy
could sleep on a bicycle
riding home from a public pool,
exhausted by hours in the water, 
luminous with lassitude,
yet able to pedal and steer in his sleep
through the wide streets
of Coral Gables, clouds building
out to sea, the breeze threatening
thunder and rain, smells of crotons, 
hibiscus, jasmine stirring his lizard brain
while the unwritten history of chaos
lingered in the distance, waiting
to swallow the dreams of a generation 
with no memory of killing, wanting only
to take another leap from the high platform,
one more lap around the swimming pool.

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