Two boys spot my puppy

and barrel from the laundromat,

complicate the sidewalk,

ring me with their muscle shirts

and cut-offs,

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.

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