Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Tale of Spunky

We never actually talked       
about the treatment we received
from our parents. It was just our life,
the only one we had,
the only one we would ever live.
Kind of like the life Spunky lived.
Our other neighbors, the Boones,
had a big coon hound, Spunky,
which spent his entire being
chained to a tree, with only
a small piece of corrugated
fiberglass panel as a shelter.
It was barely large enough to protect
him from the sun and rain. Yet,
in all of this misery and lack
of attention, Spunky would be so happy
when Mr. Boone walked past,
that his whole body would nearly
bend horseshoe-shaped,
from wagging it with joy.

Once unchained, he would run
madly across the two yards,
as if screaming "FREEDOM!"
Mr. Boone would grab a stick,
broom, belt, whatever he could find,
call the dog, who always obliged,
and whack it several times. Spunky
went through the same routine,
rolling to his side, two legs in the air,
enduring the punishment for enjoying
his moment of freedom and happiness.

But he never whelped or whined,
as if he knew that doing so
would tell Mr. Boone that he was doing
a great job, encouraging him to do even better.
I thought Spunky looked at us
and smiled, knowing his silence actually
whipped the whipper.
Afterward, he jumped up, tail wagging,
got into the car with Mr. Boone
and went hunting.
We loved Spunky, not because he
was a dog, but because he was like us,
in a way. We loved those we feared,
and feared those who loved us. We stole
our minutes of freedom and joy,
endured the pleasure of our pain in silence. 
What other choice did we have?

No, we never spoke certain thoughts
as we leaned against the big oak,
with the Parker kids,
throwing acorns at lizards,
twirling the moss around our fingers,
and watching Mr. Boone and Spunky.
We didn't laugh about it either,
out of respect for what the other
was thinking.


  1. Some people need to have a stick taken to them.

  2. Wow, that is so emotional and true of so many dogs, and kids, unfortunately. Sometimes not knowing why they were being punished, and so we, who believe, often wonder why God seems to be punishing us. "We loved those we feared,
    and feared those who loved us." That is a powerful statement! Awesome poem! You really are a great writer. This is exactly the kind of poem I like to read.