Green Hills Literary Lantern




Dog Day Heat



In summer heat, the dog dug deep

in the yard’s last shadowed corner

to plop down panting into cool dirt.

I sprawled nearby in crabgrass, clover,

under the limp wave of a sprinkler

in my sagging suit handed down

from my brother—brittle elastic,

chlorine-faded beige.


Down the street, my crush Cindee

and my brother tossed water

balloons at each other—just

a couple years older, but forever

in dog-day years. Envy and Self-Pity,

lovers joined at the hip. My hip.

Her orange bikini visible from helicopters

or low-flying planes from City Airport.

Cindee, spelled like that.


Not Metro, the big one in the burbs,

but City, boxed in by small houses

and Mount Olivet Cemetery. I was City

and my brother, Metro. Our nameless

baby sister was buried at Mount Olivet.


Oh, to have claws to dig

to the comfort of darkness beneath dust.

The dog’s name was Prince.

He buried a lot of things and dug up

a lot of things. She probably did

have a name, that week-old girl.

Down the street, Laughter and Kisses

joined at the hip. I held on tight

to the weeds beneath me. Growing

still at thirteen in the dull forced

sprinkler rain, visible too, and panting.





Jim Daniels’ most recent books include Street Calligraphy and Rowing Inland (poetry), The Perp Walk (fiction), and the anthology he edited with M.L. Liebler, RESPECT: The Poetry of Detroit Music.