“Coda” by J.D. Smith

The dog’s time came. She hadn’t barked for days
or wagged her tail, now tucked when she could stand.
She showed more strength in dreams than waking hours
and chicken—even chicken—went untouched.
The appointment made, a ride in silence, then
the shot that ferried her into the past.
The trip home done, the lawn ran thick with squirrels
that leapt and brandished flames of tail as if
she’d never treed their kind. Bastard squirrels.

J.D. Smith’s fourth collection of poetry, The Killing Tree, was published in 2016, and in 2007 he was awarded a fellowship in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. His first collection of fiction, Transit, is forthcoming in 2022. His books in other genres include the essay collection Dowsing and Science (2011). His first children’s book, The Best Mariachi in the World, was published in 2008. Smith works as a writer and editor in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife, Paula Van Lare, and their companion animals.

Author photo: Paula Van Lare

Image: “DavidLeeRoth the Dog” by Nicole Monroe

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