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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 12: March 2022
Poem: 299 words [R]
+ Author’s Note: 67 words [R]
By Gary S. Rosin

Black Dogs


It begins with the unwritten. 

The white of the page erases 
the land you once imagined. 

Now only this freeway, unreeling 
out of the fog. Highway stripes 
flicker and stretch, disappear. 

Now the red and white 
glow of cars ahead, 
the asphalt hum of tires, 

lull until a black dog 
appears in mid-stride, running. 

Called by some alarm 
pitched beyond your hearing, 

the dog rushes into the traffic, 
clears the inside lane, but 
gets caught straddling the stripe. 

The car ahead clips it with a thud, 
sends it spinning, 
now no longer a dog, now only 

a sprawling alphabet, letters 
losing their language. 

Now the grin of a hieroglyph. 
Eyes, frozen in wide 

question as you pass, but 
you have no answers, no time to reflect: 

you recognize only the still, 
only the black, 
ruffling in your wake, already 

blurring in the fog, 
leaving in the rearview mirror 

	disappearing ink. 


Later, twilight erodes the day, 

slows to a flicker 
the white blur of possibility, 
uncovers the hollow 

dark between the frames of life. 
This is the color of absence. 
This is the place where words go 
after you speak them. 

This is Woman Hollering Creek. 
Here regret 

echoes in the dark. Wind moves blind 
through the grope of trees. 
Water reaches for ground 
suddenly fallen away. 

Here La Llorona 
		cries for the lost, 
cries for the children of betrayal. 

Here the banshee 
		wails her warning, 
wails of death, how it stalks us, 
how it lurks, somewhere out of sight. 

Here you lie awake, your light on 
to hold the dark away. 

Here you try to hope, try to believe. 

Here you tell yourself 
you are not alone. 
Beyond this pool of light 
there’s something more than dark. 

A black dog comes running. 



Author’s Note:

La Llorona is a Mexican folk tale of a crying ghost that haunts the banks of streams, looking for her dead children. Although the legend appears in various forms, generally the woman is said to have killed the children herself in a fit of rage after having been betrayed by the children’s father, a hidalgo who abandoned her and the children to return to Spain.


—Published previously in Fire and Shadows (Legal Studies Forum, 2008), a chapbook by Gary S. Rosin, and appears here with his permission.

Publisher’s Note:

To experience the author’s reading of this poem for Texas Poetry Calendar, see Black Dogs, 09-20-2014 on YouTube.

Gary S. Rosin’s
Issue 12, March 2022

poetry and haiga have appeared, or are forthcoming, in various literary and poetry magazines such as Concho River Review, Eastern Structures, Failed Haiku, Harbinger Asylum, KYSO Flash, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Poetry24, The Legal Studies Forum, The Lift, The Wild Word, and Visions International; as well as in several anthologies, including contemporary haibun (Volume 17, Red Moon Press, 2022), Faery Footprints (Fae Corp Publishing), Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga (Dos Gatos Press), Texas Poetry Calendar (Kallisto Gaia Press), Untameable City: Poems on the Nature of Houston (Mutabilis Press), and elsewhere.

His poem “Viewing the Dead” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Two of his poems appear in Silent Waters, photographs by George Digalakis (Athens, 2017). He is the author of two chapbooks, Standing Inside the Web (Bear House Publishing, 1990) and Fire and Shadows (Legal Studies Forum, 2008) (offprint).

Selections of Gary’s poetry and photography can be found at his website, 4P Creations: http://4pcreations.com

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Out of the Haze, collaborative haiga by photographer George Digalakis and poet Gary S. Rosin, which was nominated by MacQ for the Red Moon Anthologies, and selected for publication in Contemporary Haibun 17 (Red Moon Press, 2022).

Crossing Kansas by Gary S. Rosin in The Wild Word (7 February 2020); includes audio of the poet reading his poem

Two Readings: “Apparition” and “Black Dogs” by Gary S. Rosin for Texas Poetry Calendar 2015 at the Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas (20 September 2014)

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