by José Angel Araguz

Why not collared,
since the fold is neat and angled,
     the page broad and flat like a chest,

or bird-beaked,
a pointed mouth poking through,
     down more apt a parallel
     for a page scratched into with words,

or simply winged,
     seeing that the crimped, white corner
             resembles more the wings of an origami swan,
                     that other folding of paper
     more akin to this makeshift bookmark
             than a dog.

Did the phrase evolve over time;
have people tried to be clever and failed
     as I do now

realizing that birds fly away,
collars wrinkle and are slipped out of.  

What else do I miss
     waking up with a clear path at the foot of my bed
             while others are happy to stumble,

welcomed each day by fur nuzzling close,
prodding them back into the world,
back to pick up where they left off.

by José Angel Araguz

I am happy when I write and it is because
it is not a bus stop with the sun spitting its heat
or the ants biting my ankles.

It is not the face they make at the pawn shop
when they see me coming, something of
we know, we know, it must be bad
we’ve seen you here three times this week.

Or the face that hovers over a spread of coins,
the clatter of things of falling,
the sigh and groan of
Look man, don’t worry about it,
meal’s free, you can hit me back later.

In my next life, I will have millions
and spend my days in line behind people
who are short a couple of hundred bucks.

See—I am happy when I write and it is because
I get to say things like:

     all joy in the world is fleeting
     like clouds across the sky—

     the day aches with the stretching of hours,
     of seconds into light and no light,
     breath into breath—

Let it rain when it rains, storm when it storms.
Let shadows fill the room until I am nothing
but the uncertainty of whether I am here at all.

I am happy when I write and it is because
I can talk about Buddhism in walks under palm trees:
     I mean, it’s just stuff, right?

It is a freedom that forces me to slow down,
awareness and reflection in the bent knuckle
and twitch of a hand across a page, attentive
like a tailor at his stitching, careful
in the mending of something torn.


José Angel Araguz has had work most recently in Gulf Coast
and has been featured in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry
column.  His chapbook,
The Wall, was published by Tiger’s Eye
Press.  Araguz runs The Friday Influence, a poetry blog, at

On “Dog-eared” and “Happiness”:
You write poems and forget them, only to come back to them in
a new light, to become the reader of a poem from a younger
version of yourself.  Usually it’s an embarrassing experience.  
Both “Dog-eared” and “Happiness,” though written years apart,
hold for me the lesson of coming back to a work humbled.  There
was a time where my reading led me to want to write difficult
things.  This feeling that my work wasn’t as up to snuff as it
should be funneled into poems that showed just that: difficulty.  
The world wants difficulty, I was sure of this.  Later, rustling
through old notebooks, I came across “Happiness” and found
that some part of me back then could already write the thing—
not the difficult thing, not the perfect thing, but the real thing
that could move the reader I was years later.  I realized this
movement was more important than difficulty.  I found myself
not embarrassed but pulled into the unfinished poem, seeing the
work to be done.  In doing the work, I learned that it was me and
me alone that got in the way.   

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 8, Number 2
(Fall 2013)

Copyright © 2013
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.