Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

Best Doggone Dog in the West

I cried so hard I threw up;
kept hearing his snarling
and snapping, then the blast
of Travis’ rifle. I was nine.
Not even Momma’s embrace
muffled that sound. Yesterday
I searched Netflix for “dog,”
and there sat Old Yeller.
I watched it with Momma
in mind. How she loved
dogs—even when her right arm
and whole tongue had been stolen
by stroke, she’d still reach out
with her left for my Labrador’s ears,
sputtering “S’s” and “F’s”
that I fancied meant “soft.”
But the balloons in her legs
became stubborn, deflating
only with the hospital IVs
that Momma hated. She quit
her lopsided grinning. Then
the hospice nurse said:
“You have to decide.” She died
within eight hours of my
muttered no more. Ever since
I’ve been hunting an image
to tell what I felt. Then
on the screen—
Old Yeller gone mad,
Travis’ wet eye in the sight
of his rifle, his finger
on the squeeze of the trigger.

bddJames M. Croteau lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his partner of 29 years, Darryl. He grew up gay and Catholic in the south. His poems have appeared in New Verse News, Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, Melancholy Hyperbole and others. He blogs about his writing occasionally at


[Note: Old Yeller was made into a movie by Disney studios in 1957, based closely on the 1956 book of the same title by Fred Gibson. Both the movie and book have become American classics. The title of the poem is the refrain from the movie’s theme song (Music by Oliver Wallace, Lyrics by Gil George, Sung by Jerome Courtland)]

Categories: Poetry, Pop Culture, Themed

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Straight from your heart Jim. Sad but beautiful. very nice pic.

  2. Donna, thanks so much for commenting. You taking the time to do that means a lot to me.

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