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Gordon Massman

My Appassionato
Finnegan's Religion

The Master of Nothing


Trainer says "this dog does not want to please master."

She is right. My commands are irrelevant. He responds solely

to treats. Calculates benefits like coupon clipper. Skittles

backward when approached. Pulls leash like bull against

training collar. Claws me jumping. Nips. "Wrong, bad

dog," is dare issued to miscreant. Screw you, he lips. We

have a staring war after which he lunges through air, nips

elbow. I pin him down, back to ground, straddle, sternly

enunciate "No. No jumping." Bore eyes into eyes. Release.

Chastened, he slinks away. Five seconds later hits me

midair like twisting sailfish. Dejected, I quit for the day,

knowing tomorrow...recidivism. He flunked puppy

preschool because he refused stay command. Non-smoker,

I crave Parliament. I want Old Crow. I stroke face,

kiss crown, hoist to lap, otherwise, weeks, months, my

baby doll. Two years now I'm drunk sucking through

nostrils mouth-exhaled smoke forming circle of self-

administered gratification. I love him. On hiking trail he

dashes twenty yards ahead, turns, like bull stands

rooted four-square facing me and when I approach leaps,

springboards off chest, strikes grounds, swivels, leaps,

springboards again, lands with concussion, thud, grinning,

then waltzes off to Marrakesh. One accepts one's child-

ren. One thanks God. One swells with pride. Play an

etude for us, Tommy, a polka, John. Tenderness squeezes

grapefruit tears. Oh baby, oh sweetie pie, my snatching

delinquent. Perfection flies out window like confetti.

Now rears onto hind legs, cha-chas across kitchen

counter, neck strained, cheek flat, tongue outstretched and,

jackpot: one pound block of gouda cheese which

becomes in seconds empty streaked cellophane wrapper.

Aching, melancholic, half naked, bewildered in the col-

lapse of years, "Bad dog!" shouts the master of nothing.

My Appassionato

I bury beef bone, medium rare, in flower garden soil,

Nose-shoveling, lovingly, cover it to be unearthed when

fancy seizes. Bones everywhere in holes scratched with

black nails. Grains crumble off them when I exhume,

sod-spattered marrow. I am quasi-wild, tender yet vicious.

Some faces I will rip, others lick. I am serious about

Table-sawn ulna. My Appassionato. Michelangelo's slave

extruding from rock. I play court jester, rocket and cut,

but given beef part, flip eyes inward back to wolf. Under

crabapple tree, atop rounded mulch mound, I am devil wild—

keen, quick, instinctual. I am not you with your pole

beans, veal, heirloom lace cloth, butterfly bloom china.

Your eating room is my cold earthen grave. I offer you

Domesticated hair-covered muscle, pulse, beat, tongue,

my radiating heat, your poultice and comfort. Love me,

value me, star my snout, as I love you, my circle, my

wheel. But keep me please in knuckle and marrow

that I may hear the distant wildness of my name.

Finnegan's Religion

Like flip turning Olympic swimmer Finnegan hits, rockets

Off my side, hits again, irrespective of bent knee. Claws

rake skin. Once practically scalped Patricia yanking her

to street. Terrorist, terrorist, tough cookie, sixty pound

muscle slab leaping eye level, leaving bruise or slashed

butt or stomach, swordsman of Plainfield wood, Water

Dog, faultlessly untrained, indulged, cooked for—lamb,

liver—daily run on trails, deep-dish memory-foam wrap-

around bed, bred on raw. Baby, baby, my nightmare:

he laid bare, gashed, heaving, gore on bumper—horror

crawls my spine, imagining. Forest engulfs like maw

our frolic, he disabusing lake of weeds, I horsefly bitten,

we huge yet tiny radiating selves on primeval troves, he

doubling, scraping flesh shoving off me with love for

lunge back into soggy algae or sedge. What is dog,

human engineered genetic companion conforming

to man's idealized standard: adorable, adoring, un-

wavering, quiescent, cozy stuffed doll come to fruition.

Finnegan docks between my legs, face first, for body

massage, tail still as an un-rustled flag, offers self, love,

comfort, blood. The firmament in his skull, im-

memorially spun, orbits its dazzling god which is I.

About the Writer      


            The poems published here are taken from Gordon Massman's forthcoming collection, Poem for a Dog. He has published four collections with The New York Quarterly Press including the recently published, God, or a Handbook for the Unbeliever.


Robert Rothman


-- Ambassador To A Distant Kingdom In The North County

-- The Monk's Halo


Leah MacLean-Evans

-- Blood Days Recipe


Paula Bernett


-- Memory Consumed So It Was Never

-- Quill and Brood

Gordon Massman


-- The Master of Nothing

-- My Appassionato

-- Finnegan's Religion

Naomi Ruth Lewinsky


-- To My Brother's Late Dragon Lady

Marie Andree-Auclaire

-- Closer Than One Thinks

Joelle Barron

-- Total Eclipse

-- House Stuff

Claire Matthews

-- My Underwear Drawer Houses the Book of Mormon

Claire Kelly

-- Poem for a Woman I Made Up

Benjamin Hertwig

-- sunday mornings, after Afghanistan

Eugenie Juliet Theall

-- Other than a Paperweight

Will Harris

-- Imam Ali Shrine

-- Kangaroo Wall


Mallory Tater


-- Heat Dream


Liz Johnston


-- Public Transit

Gardner Landry


-- Mayonaise

Benjamin Dugdale

-- Orlando Two Point O: Hashtag Forever Yung

Artwork and Photography

Gord Marci Jr.

-- Typewriter With Note

Allen Forrest


-- The New World Manbike 12 x 9 2016

-- The New World Workers 2 Ink 15 x 11 2016

Kerry Rawlinson

-- Mistry Trees

David Mutnjakovik

-- Let it Begin

Colette Campbell-Moscrop

-- Untitled-Gouache, Graphite, Ink and Watercolour on Laid-Textured Paper

-- Nope-Gouache, Graphite, Ink and Watercolour on Found Paper

-- Horrible Together, Full Circle-Ink on Cardboard Paper


Margaret Crawford


-- A Review of Kathleen McCraken's Double Self-Portrait with Mirror: New and Selected Poems (1978-2014)

-- A Review of R. Aviars Utskins' The Hoosier Zebra and other "Poims"

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