Dog Years

Clouds have stalled in the eyes
Of an old dog. The purplish tongue drips.
His hind legs are dead,
I guess, because they’re up,
Like landing gears, with small wheels
Attached to his hind end.

The dog sniffs the air,
Then rolls toward a leaf
Curled, crisp, hopelessly common.

He stares me down,
The clouds in his eyes chugging across the surface
Of his pupils, westward it seems,
A wind carrying them toward blindness.

The dog rolls away,
One wheel squeaking.
I look down at the leaf
And think that I’ve become like that,
Common and not worth sniffing.

In an hour the sun
Rolls away without the aid of wheels.
Then dinner, then a proper drink in my recliner,
Then a few steps down the hallway to bed.
In sleep, my legs kick for traction.





Gary Soto’s forthcoming work is the middle-grade novel Puppy Love, due from HarperCollins in early spring 2023. He’s also producing, along with others, a feature-length indie film based on his YA novel Buried Onions. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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