May 152011

. . . for those who meet age leading a horse by the mouth, each day is a journey, the journey itself home. ~ Matsuo Bashō


A new Journey begins with the wrenching away from the old familiar. Change has come from a direction I am unprepared for. Maisie, my baby, now old, deaf, mostly blind and feeble still relishes to be by my side. When awake, her eyes follow my shadow if her legs can’t and she begs me to be near her.

In the weeks leading up to our departure, she has become weaker and weaker, becoming less able to sustain her body with food and drink. Some days she seems to almost wither away and I pray for her to stay in her sleep peacefully, but then she magically revives the next day with a willful sense of loyalty. At long last even her devotion to me is no longer enough. She asks me to let her go and travel alone.

last breath —

a raindrop sizzles

on glowing embers


As I set out on my journey, I know she’s with me, watching and protecting me, like when she sat on the couch next to me or anywhere for that matter. Man or dog better not come close to us, or she’d protect me with her life. Some visitors liked to antagonize her and paid the price, getting their new pants shredded at the ankles.

She so loved traveling, getting her head in the wind, sitting on my lap, looking out the window, taking everything in and not passing a chance to bark at other dogs as we drove by. She’d always be the first one in the car, when it was time to go somewhere. When I had a pick-up truck, her favorite spot was on my shoulders and neck, where she could have a good view of everything. “Dogs Love Trucks” was her. I so much wanted to make this journey with her that I lost sight of her age and ability to make it with me.

midnight train –

whistling the dream,

that was

Her kinship with horses was just uncanny. Other large animals, dogs, cows and man, she showed no respect and attacked without fear, but horses were another story. Whenever we got close to them she would just stare at them in awe. I was sure, she had been one in a previous incarnation or wanted to be one when she grew up. In her latter days when she was deaf and nearly blind, she’d even gallop and buck like a horse when she would get excited…

I wrap her up in her pooh bear blanket and the next morning we bury her 16 year old lifeless body next to Erving, her father, in the back yard. Certainly the best place for her final resting place, with all the family pets of the last 25 years: our cats Eleanor, Butch, Ursula and Frankie, our dogs Thea, Critter and Erving and three still born puppies, several rats, hamsters, an iguana, water dragon, many goldfish and more than 80 budgies and finches… I miss my special dog :'(


dust settles

in my garden . . .

sleeping moon


  2 Responses to “running with horses . . . endless spring”

  1. I am a fellow haiku poet, and I am editing an anthology of haiku, senryu, and tanka entitled, The Temple Bell Stops: Contemporary Poems of Grief, Loss and Change. I am writing to request permission to include
    “last breath” in the anthology. Thanks very much, and I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Robert Epstein

    • Hi, Robert. Thank you for your request to include my haiku in your anthology. The haibun it’s included in is being published (in rewritten form) in the next Contemporary Haibun Online, due out in October. So my question is, when is your anthology coming out? If it’s after October, I have no problem with it being included as long as customary first publication credits are added. Otherwise, I’d have to check with the editors of CHO if there would be a problem.
      All best,
      Ted van Zutphen

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