Training to Be a Star

by Bob Bradshaw
The Writer's Block
Third Place, January 2022
Judged by Carol Graser

our husky was always sticking her nose
down a hole, as if it was a top hat
turned upside down, hoping to emerge

with a rabbit, an amateur magician
who time after time revealed
a tunnel as an empty sleeve.

Still Amanda never gave up, moving
from hole to hole the way
a performer goes from one

audition to another,
never giving up on a chance
at her big moment.

Today a wild fluttering clapped the air
like a duck flushed out of its reeds…
Amanda staring back happily at us

as if awaiting our reaction,
a live pigeon in her mouth.
No! No! We shouted.

She tilted her head, puzzled
that we stood–shouting
Let go! Let go!

Gently her jaw opened
and in a spluttering
the pigeon burst into the air.

We rushed to embrace her,
throwing our arms around her neck,
stroking her chin.

She gazed up into our eyes,
her light brown eyes moist,
as if she stood at a stage’s footlights,

“Encore! Encore!” drifting
down from the balconies
like a blizzard of feathers.

This poem does a great job of describing a moment. It’s nicely constructed and satisfying. I’m not a huge fan of poems about dogs either, so there was no bias there! --Carol Graser