Two boys spot my puppy
and barrel from the laundromat,
complicate the sidewalk,
ring me with their muscle shirts
Can I pet your dog
is it a boy or girl
is it a pit bull or rottweiler
can I hold the leash
does he bite —
The stocky one stands straight,
reciting as if memorized
You got to give them lots of love
so never hit them and always talk
(baby-coo) like this,
they only bite cause they’re teasing
so don’t ever hit them,
what they really like is a bowl of milk,
that puppy will love you forever
if you just hug him
and give him a bowl of milk.
A big man in undershirt comes out.
I told you to git inside and stay inside,
did you bring in them baskets like I told you,
and the boy who knows about puppies disappears.
Susman’s poems have appeared in US 1 Worksheets, Poet Lore, Paterson Literary Review, Alehouse, Dogwood Journal, and elsewhere. Chapbooks are Gogama (2006), Wartime Address (2009), and Familiar (2009). She is a professor of English at Caldwell College and a member of US 1 Poets and the Cool Women poetry performance group.