by Lois Rosen
Four-legged, seaside swain, sashays
into my no-door, open-air palapa
along with smells of grilling tortillas
raucous chachalaca birdcall clatter.
Light brown, maybe a Labrador mix
more surfer dude than simpering pet
a guest without reservations, here
for a one-nighter, perhaps longer,
a stray with no collar. I back away
fretting about fleas and bites. “Shoo!
Vállate!” I wave. He trots out, no
barking or growling, dignity intact.
His name’s Canelo, male version
of cinnamon I’m told. Playa dogs
are peaceful. Minutes later, he curls
up on the next-door woman’s cot.
Your loss, Lady. I could’ve snuggled
beside you this moonlit night under
the mosquito net. Me, the local.
Qué lástima. What a shame.
The second-place poem, “Yelapa Regret,” offers “tenderness” as its overall mood, while a skillful sprinkling of Spanish adds zest and music. The poem is a wry re-telling of an incident the poet might do differently if given a second chance. The poet avoids the easy device of presenting a false tale about human seduction, and waiting till the very end to surprise us—rather tells the story straight up as having to do with a stray dog. Each stanza is rich with colors, smells, and actions, all making for a delightful send-up in which the dog comes out ahead.
Lois Rosen won Willamette Writers’ 2016 Kay Snow Fiction Award. The Rainier Writing Workshop awarded her an MFA and a Debra Tall Memorial Scholarship. Her poetry books are Pigeons (Traprock Books, 2004) and Nice and Loud (Tebot Bach, 2015). Lois’s writing has appeared most recently in New Verse News, VoiceCatcher, and Timberline Review. She founded Salem’s Peregrine Poets, leads the Trillium Writers, and the ICL Writers Group at Willamette University.