Untethered Dog

A Commonplace By Tom Swift

Presence

The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.

-Denise Levertov, “Living,” Poems of Denise Levertov, 1960-1967 (1983)

Self-Respect

Everyone goes astray, but the least imprudent are they who repent the soonest.

-Voltaire

Self-Respect

I keep a close eye on this hert of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time

-Johnny Cash, “I Walk the Line,” At San Quentin (1969)

Honesty

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
in the end

-Johnny Cash, “Hurt,” American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)

Acceptance

Some people work things out
And some people don’t know how to change

-Boys II Men, “Water Runs Dry,” II (1994)

Connection

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

-James Wright, “A Blessing,” Above the River: The Complete Poems and Selected Prose (1990)

Restraint

Security

And I know, I know everything’s gonna be alright.

-Kacey Musgraves, “Golden Hour,” Golden Hour (2018)

Responsibility

Be subject to one another …

-Ephesians, 5:21

Autonomy

You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.

-Johnny Cash