Mudlark Poster No. 152 (2017)

More Double-Title Poems

by David Alpaugh

Is anything worse than watching your old
dog die? Losing your pup, when you’re 6.
A specialist told Mom she was allergic to
dog hair. Dad said, Sorry. We have to give
him away—the Cocker Spaniel I named

Bootsie—to a friend of a friend who tried to 
turn my pal into a guard dog. Lord Jesus, let 
him break free! Like Lassie, run home to me!
Jesus tried his best—but ran into Bad Luck.
Bootsie broke out of his pen but was hit by a

I want that sudden, explosive pain in my temple
or that sharp tightening of right or left ventricle.
Though I don’t prefer it, I’m ok with swerving 
to avoid a chipmunk & plunging over a 50 foot
embankment. As I’d like it—if I get to have my
Druthers. I found Dad—eyes closed—peaceful
in his easy chair. Isn’t that the ideal way to go?
Hell, no!—I want to know I’m dying. But God
has a dark sense of humor. Can be a real creep. 
May be planning to squash me like a bug in my

Up. The whole world by Atlas. Capitalism
by John Galt. Sonny by Cher. Macbeth by
his Lady. Abbott by Costello. Millions by 
brassieres and elevator shoes. Down, down,
I come like glist’ring PhaĆ«ton. No one stays
Propped up. No wonder mom says stand on
your own two feet and pols urge the poor to 
pull themselves up by their own boot straps. 
Many crowd Preferment’s Gate. Some wear
a crown. You propped up? Prepare to be shot

Turtles are quite easy to catch. Aren’t all that
dangerous. Pick a big one up by its tail and it
will twirl its head around and try to bite your
hand off—at the wrist. But 2 feet of carapace
will separate your fingers from its jaws, idly
Snapping. Summer, 1951. We caught & kept 5
monsters in a tub in Tommy Oldenhage’s yard.
We weren’t rich. Snappers don’t care what they
eat. We drove Otto, the butcher, crazy, asking 
for: 50¢ worth of your very WORST chopped

She was easy to catch. Seventeen, beautiful,
romantic, naive. He’d collected butterflies 
as a boy. Wasn’t that the best way to secure 
a woman? Throw a net over her? Put her in
a cage where such loveliness would remain

Captured. Trouble was she longed to be free.
Run off, finish high school—maybe even fly
away to college. So our hunter turned farmer.
Punched holes in condoms—till a baby came
along. Then relaxed. His GRIP unshakably

up & down up & down up & down up & down 
with Miley or Jay-Z. Feet more often in the air
than on the ground. Mouths twerking—That’s
America to Me! No “Skylark” in Cheap Thrill 
Park: bumping, dumping, humping, thumping,
Jumping. 6 teenyboppers boom box onto BART!
Somersault on hand rails! Break dance the aisle!
I toss 50¢ into their tip hat, while Ella murmurs
“Skylark” on my noise cancelling earphones—
and the world JUMPS up & down up & down up &

Note on the Double-Title Poem

The “double-title” poem has two five line stanzas. The first title reads into the poem or states its opening motif. The first word in the second stanza is italicized and identical to the first title. At least one word in the last two lines of the second stanza rhymes with the exit title.

Double-title poems respect both locality and “spooky action at a distance.” Their aim is to treat language as both particle and wave.

Author’s Note

David Alpaugh’s poetry, drama, fiction and criticism have appeared in journals that include Able Muse, Chronicle of Higher Education, Evergreen Review, Modern Drama, Poetry, Poets & Writers, Rattle, Scene4, Spillway, and Zyzzyva. His collection, Counterpoint, won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize from Story Line Press. Anthologies that have published his work include Heyday Press’s California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present and the Norton Critical Anthology Eight Modern Plays. His musical play Yesteryear: Three Days in Paris with François Villon was published last year by Scene4. He teaches at California State University East Bay’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and has been a finalist for Poet Laureate of California. Access more of his work at:

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