Feature > Poetry
Patrick Cotter

Patrick Cotter

Patrick Cotter, born Cork, Ireland in 1963 where he curates literary festivals for a living. He has published a verse novella, several chapbooks and two full poetry collections including Perplexed Skin (Syracuse U.P. 2008) and Making Music (Three Spires Press 2009).

Homeland Security

The dog down my street knows Morse I swear
His pitch, his expression as rare as Stan Getz.
I know him by his barks alone.
With a swaggering tail  
he could sniff past me in the street
or piddle on my boots  
and I would not know him
from the first dog off the Ark.
I've noted down his signals
but the language he yelps
sounds a mystery at times
just last night he morsed:
"Jxtugh nwxrut hejwrt mnpw".
You might laugh,
but last week he barked in unencrypted English:

"The yellow bittern's song
Enters the dark quadrant
When it is hungry.
The yellow dog's whine
Happens some days
To hit the same notes
As the song of the yellow bittern".

It's possible he is a spy
or the instrument of a spy.
Who knows?
Maybe the dog is not the author
of his own barks
but Morse-prodded by a mysterious hand.
Sometimes he barks and barks
and never receives a reply.
Perhaps I should decode
the noise road traffic makes
or the staccato of raindrops?
If there are rules to this game
I don't know what they are.
Who says you can't message
in dog barks
and respond by raindrops?


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