Eating the Black Dog

by Fred Longworth
The Write Idea
First Place, September 2012
Judged by Troy Jollimore

To begin with, he didn’t want to be eaten,
much like the knight in the Wife of Bath’s Tale
didn’t want to marry the hag.
And though in Chaucer’s story
the hag turned into a beautiful woman
once she had gained total mastery
over the knight, in the Black Dog’s Tale
he simply turned into a pile of bones.

It wasn’t easy to talk him into letting us eat him.
Because he was fearful about the pain,
we promised it would go quickly.
Because he was uncertain about what
would happen afterward, we served him
a generous course of benign providence
followed by a dessert of blissful eternity.
He was troubled about abandoning his family,
so we assured him we would eat them too.

He demanded a reason for this sacrifice.
We told him that it was written
in the Great Book of Reality that his life
should end this way. As with the others,
this explanation was too much for him.
As we had hoped, he ran off into the woods,
an exertion that renders them more delicious.
After two days of searching, we found him
hiding by a lovely mountain stream.
We ate him there, on a table of mountain moss.

This poem works according to its own internal logic, following an initial narrative inspiration doggedly to its conclusion. The language flows and the images are well-chosen. Overall it seems like a metaphor for something, and the fact that we can’t pin its meaning down only makes it more enjoyable. ---Troy Jollimore