Al Ortolani

Our Dog Wears One Shoe

My wife takes the dog
for a walk. We decide
to use a little shoe
for his injured right paw.
About ten minutes into
the walk, she calls
and says the dog is getting
ready to take a poop.
And I say, that’s good.
Then she says that she
forgot to bring
the little plastic bags
to scoop up his mess.
I say, ok.

She says, I was wondering
if you could bring me
a bag. I was right
in the middle of writing
a poem that would
probably change our lives,
but I say, sure. I grab the little
roll of plastic, and drive off
down the street to where
she says she’ll be waiting.

I turn the wrong way, north
instead of south, I suppose
still thinking of my poem
lost in suburban beige, and I can’t
find them. I see an old man
working in his flower
garden, and I stop to ask
if he’s since an attractive woman
of an indeterminate age
watching a dog with one shoe
taking a dump. He frowns,
thinks I’m speaking in political
metaphors. End of days stuff.

When I find the two of them
standing patiently on the curb,
the dog grins. He sees
my car and starts leaping
up and down like a kid.
Somewhere he’s lost his shoe.
My wife says, wait a minute,
you can take the bag
home with you. So, I do, and
minutes later, I’m driving
back the way I came
hunting a shoe that fits a dog.


Al Ortolani is a recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Series Award. His individual poems have appeared in journals like The Chiron Review, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, and poetrybay. His work has been featured in The Writer’s Almanac and in the American Life in Poetry. Ortolani’s most recent collection of poems, The Taco Boat, has just been released by New York Quarterly Books.