Taylor Graham


I’m standing behind a stranger’s SUV
in the parking lot. I’m windblown in a bulky
camo vest. A lady glances at me;
shortens her step, stares; hurries on, raises
her cellphone. I’m lurking – I’ll be
arrested for loitering, detained as a terrorist.
It’s an insidious genre, terror –
numbing anesthetic or a trigger. The enemy,
or his bomb, could be hiding
in a crease of curtain, crevice of walls,
crosshatch of trellis; or right here,
lurking behind a Dodge Durango. I sneak
a peek at my puppy, Trek, who shuns no threat.
He sits at attention in my truck
3 cars down, ready to bark at anything
suspicious – a woman pushing a cart, old man
on a scooter, a slouching teen.
I’m ready to spring at him, tell him NO!!
The world is his friend.
A girl walks by, lost in her device; nearly
collides with my truck. Trek doesn’t budge.
No bark. Good dog! My vest pockets
bulge with treats, his reward. No sirens.
Maybe that lady didn’t report me, after all.


Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada. She’s included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library, 2012) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Her book, The Downstairs Dance Floor, was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her latest book is What the Wind Says (Lummox Press, 2013), poems about living and working with her canine search partners over the past 40 years.

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