Jacob Saenz
Fur Below

Born in the year of the dog & bitten

by one six years later walking home solo


from first grade & turning into an alley

where a brown mutt mounted a dirty poodle


I didn’t take their bodies for orange

cones to swerve or turn back from


I paused & watched as they humped in front

of a garage belonging to the blue building


where we rented the back end of a second floor

apartment while my tia resided in the front half


I walked into their barked warnings

heading towards the back door of home  


by staying close to garages & garbage cans

until I got too close & the cur got off


the poodle & mounted my body

in a different way w/stiff paws


& claws that tore at my face

w/a tongue lapping up blood


w/a nose pelting my forehead wet

w/teeth peeling off my skin


only to reveal fur below

I became a pup yelping for help


for rescue by a hero named Lucio

a third-grader who strode by & heard


my cries & scared the canine away

& guided me to the front of my building


where fear forced me to climb up

the fire escape where my mom & tia


sat & chatted during warm days

I grasped rung after rung as blood


tears & snot clung to my face

which my mother cleaned w/burning


hydrogen peroxide & cotton balls

as my stepfather grabbed his BB gun


& pumped & pumped to fire out

the back window at the dawdling dogs


who ran away from each missed shot

as I howled from being licked




Found In Volume 49, No. 06
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Jacob Saenz
About the Author

Jacob Saenz is the author of Throwing the Crown , which was awarded the 2018 APR/Honickman First Book Prize. He has been an editor at Columbia Poetry Review and an associate editor at RHINO.  A CantoMundo fellow, he has also been the recipient of a Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship.