by Alan Devenish
At the end of the story
the author is chased through a snowstorm
by a pack of wild dogs.
It is obvious his book did not work out
for him or his characters,
most of whom desert the novel
long before the final chapters.
Toward the end the narrative
refuses to have anything to do
with the novel and the descriptive passages
bleach out on the page.
What turned the book against the author
is not clear. All we know
is that in the epilogue
there was some foolishness with a college student
whom the author promised a part in the novel
if she followed him up into the woods.
She soon discovers the romance
of the literary life: the author
toiling white days and nights
at his opus and never coming to the part
where she says, "Oh Lloyd,"
as their shadows play
on the cabin's fire-lit walls.
Instead he drudges and drinks,
the words fleeing the murderous keys
of his portable typewriter.
One day, for sport,
he dons a pair of snowshoes
and says, "C'mon's great fun."
She sulks inside and threatens
to call her father.
"Book's almost done," he coaxes,
before waddling off into the drifts.
While he's gone she calls for a taxi to the station,
a chapter that was not supposed to be in the book.
She leaves a note: Some fun.
As the author lumbers along
he hears a keening in the air
but decides it's just the wind in the pines.
Soon the sound howls closer on his heels.
Like a great land bird he gawks
in all directions, then on webbed feet
Unseen, the dogs are gaining,
dark ghosts against the snow,
a mockery of pink tongues
slack in avid jaws.
The author, encumbered and half-blind
in this blizzard of his own creation,
cranes his neck
that one last time.
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