A Dog in Paris

Old dog, nose pointed to the ground,
any canine can howl music in the moonlight,

The alliteration of music and moonlight is a little bit mysterious, it adds to the poem! Patty Schlutt, age 15

but you enter this City of Light,
and walk like one of the great dogs
who travel from Clichy to Paris,
observing all the ancient rituals,

This line captures the instincts shared by all dogs, like sniffing around and perking their ears to sounds. Rachel Talen, age 21

stopping to make your path, as if your name
weren't Rex but Verlaine; and the poet who named you

All things seem more uppity in Paris-even the dogs have more refined names! Rachel Talen, age 21
The "l" alliteration here is beautiful. Samantha Mikita, age 19

petted your sleek marble, the scent of the Left Bank
still in your paws, you, the muse for poetry.

Instead of saying something along the lines of “he’s a special dog”, Russ dazzles us with the line “the poet petted your sleek marble”. Samantha Mikita, age 20
It is ironic that the speaker is imagining the stray dog as an old epic hero and a muse for poetry when that is exactly the role he is fulfilling in this poem. Kara Madden, age 21
I love how we see the dog imagining himself one of these great dogs, named Verlaine, with a poet as a master. Patty Schlutt, age 15

Your careful motion never grows weary
of this ancient world. One forefoot, then the next slowly,
as if everywhere you step is home.

These uppity dogs own the streets they walk on. Rachel Talen, age 21

The milk of stars above, the bone of your dreams
buried in the backyard of a painter

It's fascinating how the stars are described as milk and dreams as bone, because dogs like milk and bones. Patty Schlutt, age 15

who feeds you bread dipped in coffee.
His hands smell of canvases, radiant places
where he stroked a million glittering dots
to dazzle even an old dog like you,
part basset hound, part bulldog.

The 7 lines above act as an incredible glimpse into the magical world of this dog, and what this life means to him—the milk and bone of the night, the curious and compassionate hands of a painter. Andrew De Haan, age 22.
Above, is my favorite part of the poem. Russ takes usually basic items and turns them into a glorious line. Samantha Mikita, age 19

If he grew tired of you, he never betrayed it
in his rudeness. You wear on your body
the great odors of the earth, the color of sienna,
leaves like fur that can't ever be combed back,

This is a strong image, and one that all readers can relate to--the stray dog, fur matted beyond combing, that strong unique smell of wet and dirty animal. Kara Madden, age 22

a redbone stammer in a howl, which you respectfully
break off, as if his eyes whiten in worry
you'll wake his daughter sleeping. A dog of intelligence
whistled at to return, your name Verlaine
dark and swirling, you scent the soundless track

The name Verlaine is "dark and swirling"; it's certainly true. Patty Schlutt, age 15

in the Parisian night--the star of your own film noir
wagging your tail furiously in profile,
idiosyncratic nose sniffing new territory.
In your heart runs the River Seine.

The end is bold and beautiful. Patty Schlutt, age 15
I love this ending, as it leaves the reader with a strong image of the noble dog, friendly with great poets and painters, but who is also undeniably wild and free, like the river. Kara Madden, age 22
I like how the line alludes to the wildness that is still at the core of all dogs. Rachel Talen, age 21
Seeing a dog as intelligent as this one walking through Paris at night seems very film noir to me. I just love how I can picture this. Then the very last line! Not only is this dog important to poets and painters, but a part of Paris, the River Seine, runs through him. Samantha Mikita, age 19
Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.