Tuesday Poem: ‘Black Dog’ by Sarah Jane Barnett

Black Dog

I don’t have any experience with death.
I deal with it as I would
a stray dog in the street –

bow my head,
avert my eyes
and become a foreigner.

The night the dog follows me
to stand bow-legged,
a hollow in my doorway,

I pick up the phone
and call home for instructions.

To kick off a new year of Tuesday poems, I thought it was time for a poem of my own. This poem is from 2006, so it is quite different to the way I write at the moment. It is a simple poem, but one that works for me. A lot of poets look back on their old work and feel embarrassed. I know I certainly do. But this poem reminds me of a time when I was younger and I had just started to see writing as something I could do with my life (at the time I was doing the Masters at Victoria University). This poem was originally published in Deep South ’07.

For the next month I am going to feature poems about sorrow, loss and disappointment. My own work seems to return to these themes, and it is interesting to see the way these emotions are portrayed in poetry.

Check out other Tuesday poems at the Tuesday Poem hub.


6 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: ‘Black Dog’ by Sarah Jane Barnett

  1. I love the spareness of this poem, Sarah.
    The lines ‘The night the dog follows me
    to stand bow-legged,
    a hollow in my doorway’
    portrays the utter loneliness and devastation precisely. Thanks for posting an early poem!

  2. Thanks Harvey and Elizabeth!

    Talking about early poems, I actually have a diary from when I was 15 with some of my true early poems. They are terrible (but heartfelt) and I will take them to my grave.

  3. I loved the poem Sarah, even if my english is not so good (I’m spanish) and I might be missing some of the meaning…….

    I’m posting it in my facebook so my friends can read it, ok? With credits, of course.

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