“Dogs’ Tail Told Tanka” Tanka 2201*

(December, 13, 2001)

He died…but not ‘fore left a little larger son

yellow-cur bent tails!

and Tiger Two** Tamed Sanford

at least lots of its girl-dogs!

*(The final tanka of a series of the two (actually, three) dogs who came to House Richards in the formative years of the late 1950s through the middle of the 1960s. In 1967, returning home from a full-moon midnight surfing expedition (and else!) at New Smyrna Beach I stopped at a sitting yellow-cur bent-tail dog at the corner of Mellonville Avenue State Road 46 just on the outskirts of town. I opened the door of dad’s ’65 Ford Custom 500 and Tiger Two hopped aboard without a word of explanation but his smile was even more self-satisfied than mine. He sat just behind the Hurst shifter Glenn had installed. You, too, Tiger? was all I could say. He hopped out at Cedar Avenue as I parked, the waft of bacon and sausage and pancakes coming through the front door and Two took his leave to go sit patiently at the back porch screen door for me to have my fill and take him his portion. He always went out to the woods just past the thin two-lane dirt track dividing line that became one day later 24th Place and paved but never to standard all the way to Cedar Creek running a “continental Sanford Divide from Lake Jem (Jenny?) all the way to Lake Monroe…the other creek ran, eventually, to to Lake Jessup. Both Tigers and I had walked those creek banks – both sides – by ourselves several times. And what we saw and what we did remain secret still. Suffice to say of the above adventure poeticized in haiku/tanka form I caught a slight hell from mom about where I had been all night. “But, mom,” I pled my case, “I said I’d be home early” A wink at dad just finishing up his breakfast before going to tell the Mouse House how to do it. “And, look outside: it’s early.” The sun had just cleared The Risner’s trees and was illuminating mom and her pet Eastern Indigo which lay wrapped upon itself in those not-coil coils on the 110-gallon fuel-oil drum just outside her galley kitchen window. “Leave The Boy ‘lone, Sally,l” Dad said behind a last mouthful. “It is early.” He winked back. Mom laughed at her two miscreants. Glenn and Storm both had gone off to do what it was they were doing. The lady ran a three hour breakfast bar some days it seemed. My job – and Tiger’s, both of ’em – was to finish the pile of whatever presented itself for food to fuel her barbarians. Skeeter The (Siamese) Cat who knew she was a dog, Petey the Parakete, and whatever name the current guinea pig wore all ate different from Tigers-n-me. That made them pets. Tiger – well, okay, Skeeter too and later Skeeter Two – were family. And you fed family breakfast…even if Skeeter always spit out the apple slices Tiger and I always had for mid-morning snacks.)

The plethora of yellow cur dogs – with bent tails and enigmatic smiles – I remain convinced were the fault of both Tigers of ours who had habits amorous – but responsibly so. I finally found out what almost always Tiger I and Tiger II kept deep in the woods abutting our house: he had stashed a lady gotten in The Family Way and to the then love-of-his life a roll or three of pancakes. I’m not sure he ever brought them bacon or sausage. Sometimes he’d upchuck some scrambled eggs before his queen of the moment, but never the good stuff. What a guy!)

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