Credit: Chris Jarvis / Unsplashed

Chryss Yost is an award-winning poet who served as Santa Barbara Poet Laureate from 2013 to 2015. She is the co-editor of Gunpowder Press and founder of the Shoreline Voices Project. Her poem “Boney Dog” displays many of the gifts for which she is renowned: an acute visual sense, precise and creative diction and phrasing, a wry sense of humor, and an extraordinary attention to sound. You not only see the boney dog of the title; you can practically feel him, too. —David Starkey

It takes a thick skin
to take him, cuffed
by the neck,
for a walk.
His fine silk and strut
a draw, and then
a trap.
Just a whisper
as we pass, the gasp —
a lipsticked hiss —
So thin! Too thin!
He leaps the razor-
edge from trim
to bones and pelt.
Treats of cheese
and bits of fat
don’t stick.
His spine a strand
of beads,
my skin grows thick,
I put the collar on.
We walk.


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