Walt McDonald
Big Dogs after War

Decades of dogs jumped over his tailgate
to sniff the news from pickups around the ranch
and down state roads. Balanced,
unbalanced in turns and stops,

they watched my brother inside the cab,
doing magic with wind flapping their lips.
Troll was the first after World War Two,
a fluffy St. Bernard that shoved

and made that pickup rock. Back from war,
my brother had faith in dogs, the only pets
he trusted. I worked his ranch in summers,
learned how to cuss when anything

went wrong, heard nightmares
that waked me down the hall, shouts
no one but his wife could stand.
Often, I found him in the barn at dawn

with coffee, alone with that pre-war pickup
he polished like a toy. Years swift as crops slid by,
a long, fast litany of dogs big as horses. Attila,
Goat Boy, Little Caesar learned that amazing trick

to please him, legs shoving gravity away
and soaring over the tailgate,
the whole world swaying, drooled on,
pounded with massive, wagging tails.