Where the Tough Guy Lives

by Grant Chemidlin

The sign outside the house reads:


          Warning: Guard Dogs


but the license plate on the dirt-caked Jeep
parked in the driveway says




as in one who poodles, a poodle


as in the jig’s up guy. You’re
a liar.


          Warning: Guard Clouds


          Warning: Pillows Will Attack Upon


Sleep so hard you’ll want to break in
every weekend.


I laugh
& two pit bulls come tumbling


like Grecian beasts,
their short horse bodies, jaws like lions.


I gazelle out of there faster
than a heartbeat, all the way home


to my metaphorical


Poodler must be a nickname, I think,
a surname, the name


of some secret society of men learning
to protect


          their softness.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University-Los Angeles. Recent work has been published or forthcoming in Tupelo Quarterly ReviewArlington Literary Journal, and Eunoia Review.