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Man and Dogs

The elderly gentleman approached

with measured steps and conscious carriage

precisely in pace with two golden retrievers

old dogs on slack leads

well-fed sleekly groomed

resigned to their constitutional hour.

They raised their heads at my approach

and one even lifted a hopeful tail.

I stopped. I love dogs.

'May I touch them?' I asked.

'Certainly,' replied the gentleman

in a clipped but not unkind voice.

I knelt and fondled the two silken heads

rubbing their ears, making doggie talk

as they pressed into my lap.

I glanced up, smiling.

The man was standing patiently

his face polite but closed

and I said, 'Would you like a pat, too?'


The words flipped out of my mouth



My bold humour will be

the death of me some day.

And he's ENGLISH!

His eyes glazed over

as I kept my smile glued -

it was an intimate joke with a stranger

totally inappropriate

what do I do now -

Then his pupils sparked

his face broke rank and he laughed,

'No, thank you. I'm fine.'


He gathered in his dogs gracefully

their tails wagging leashes straining.

I stood

and we parted

the moment finished.


This past autumn one of his dogs died.

Their footsteps are even slower now

just man and dog.

We always nod in passing

but not smiling.

The dog does not lift its head.

I have never stopped again

nor presumed to speak.

But each time I wonder,

'Who will be gone next?'

and I feel a pang

as though I really know him.




Cynthia Buell Thomas

Jan., 2016

from a series called 'Brief Encounters'





◄ Hymn of a Northern Clime

Wind from my Window ►


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Stu Buck

Tue 26th Jan 2016 10:36

i shall join the ever growing circle of admirers, but add nothing, as its all been said. hoping to read more of these.

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Tue 26th Jan 2016 10:33

Had I been quicker to read and comment I would have said what Robert Mann said! A beautifully observed moment.

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Graham Sherwood

Mon 25th Jan 2016 23:36

Yes an ending that doesn't end. Incredibly clever writing CBT with all the candour and detail one would expect from you. Well done.

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Martin Elder

Mon 25th Jan 2016 23:26

Cynthia this is definitely up to usual standard of a finely told tale in an almost casual narrative fashion. Nicely done

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 25th Jan 2016 21:26

This glows with the warmth of a precious jewel I bet he wished he'd said "Yes, please".

<Deleted User> (13947)

Mon 25th Jan 2016 21:15

Beautiful and you made me laugh out loud. Your funny little line to the gentleman sounded so much like something I would have said. I am still smiling over it. Such a brilliant and complete story in your retelling of a brief encounter.

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steve pottinger

Mon 25th Jan 2016 21:03

I'm glad I stopped to read this poem, Cynthia. Beautifully observed.

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Jim Trott

Mon 25th Jan 2016 16:42

Hi Cynthia. I love the idea of writing about brief encounters. Short snapshots of everyday life. Man and Dogs is beautifully crafted, and I love the humour in there too.

I only joined the site today, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your work


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Mon 25th Jan 2016 16:04

A nicely related tale with all the trimmings Cynthia. It can't be overstated how bonded people can be with their pets. Quite sad and I like your empathy. A real goodie.


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Robert Mann

Mon 25th Jan 2016 13:06

Cynthia - you have managed to combine acute observation, humour, poignancy and pathos into this lovely piece of work. I love the detail and the commentary. As a regular dog-walker I can also empathise with the characters. Bloody brilliant.

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