Today you’re getting a poem about my big dumb childhood dog. Frances was named after this Frances, a little badger girl in a series of picture books I had as a kid. These books led first to me being nicknamed Frances – “Bedtime for Frances!” was both the title of one of those books and the way I was ushered to bed for a few years – and later, the name was slapped on the dog, who didn’t know it was spelled the feminine way, because he was the dumbest dog ever born.
A big, beautiful, prancing blonde boye, he got compliments everywhere he went – he was built like a greyhound, all sleek lines and short golden coat, but like… quadruple that size. A hundred pounds of hyper great dane/greyhound/something or other, with the brain of a fucking squirrel at the helm. I spent most of my adolescence being dragged around the neighborhood at the end of his leash, wrestling him in the backyard, and laughing at him when he tried to eat rocks.
The thing about the light bulb is 100% true, although I did bend the circumstances a bit for a rhyme – point of fact, he got the light bulb out of the trash. We came back to the house to find the trash can spilled, and Frances sitting in the back yard with half a broken light bulb between his paws, and the other half presumably responsible for the blood all over his face and chest. We ran out into the yard to take it from him and he jumped up, panting blood, grinning like a maniac, hoping we’d throw the bulb for him to chase.
Somehow he survived that. He was about seven years old before lymphoma got him, so he defeated the light bulb and lived to chew the lit barbecue once more, to vault onto the counter and drag my mom’s homemade pizza out into the yard, to walk into the pillar that held up the patio roof no less than a thousand times, even though it hadn’t moved once in his entire life. So this sonnet is for my big stupid dog-brother. Good boy, Frances.
A golden dog, but not a retriever –
maybe some great dane, maybe some greyhound –
opined the vet when we brought Frances round.
“Hell, with those teeth, he could be part beaver.”
He was a chronic underachiever,
too dumb to get all four feet on the ground
bashed his head on walls when he’d turn around…
Smell something good? Why not lick a cleaver?
Frances, the prettiest, stupidest dog,
Biting the fire in the barbecue
put away everything he chose to chew
Even a light bulb he found on a jog.
Said to his bloody grin, “What did you DO?”
Must conclude fools are protected by god.