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"Golden Retrievals"

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Ulises Bonilla

on 24 April 2014

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Transcript of "Golden Retrievals"

Born August 10, 1953 in Maryville, Tennessee
Earned a Bachelor of Arts from Drake University
Received Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Goddard College
First collection of poems, "Turtle, Swan" published in 1987
"My Alexandria" published in 1993, earned him the T.S Eliot Prize
Divorced Paul Lisicky in 2013
Currently with Alexander Hadelin
About the Author
Title/Title Revisited
On first reading the title, I thought it was about the rediscovery of something "golden" that was high in value
After reading the poem, the title could be hinting at the kind of dog the "narrator" is; a golden retriever
Go get it? These playthings only intrigue me for a short time. Seize? Not likely.
A few things fly past, a squirrel that's finally scared. Smell the wind, then off to chase something else. As for you? Still stuck in the past, wondering about those what-ifs while you cut our walking time short and make us go back, or you've got your mind somewhere else thinking about what you call "tomorrow." My job?
To solve your time problems and bring you back to now. I call you here now, bow-wow.

The Poem
Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention
seconds at a time. Catch? I don’t think so.
Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who’s—oh
joy—actually scared. Sniff the wind, then

I’m off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue
of any thrillingly dead thing. And you?
Either you’re sunk in the past, half our walk,
thinking of what you never can bring back,

or else you’re off in some fog concerning
—tomorrow, is that what you call it? My work:
to unsnare time’s warp (and woof!), retrieving,
my haze-headed friend, you. This shining bark,

a Zen master’s bronzy gong, calls you here,
entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.
Mark Doty
Presentation by:
Ulises Bonilla

"Golden Retrievals"
The fog (Line 9)
Zen Master (Line 13)
Tumbling Leaf (Line 3)
Bronzy gong (Line 13)
A squirrel...actually scared (Line 3)
End rhyme, Lines 2 and 3, Lines 5 and 6

Connotation Cont'd
"Bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow" (Line 14)
"Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel..." (Line 3)
"...and woof!" (Line 11)
"Bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow." (Line 14)
"Thrillingly dead thing" (Line 6)
"This shining bark, a Zen master's bronzy gong..." (Lines 12-13)
Attitude and Shift
The general tone of the poem is bright and brazen given the answers given by the dog through rhetorical questions

There is a shift in tone from stanza 1 to stanza 2. The shift is to a more somber tone through the use of diction. "...muck, pond, ditch, residue...thrillingly dead thing...sunk in the past... never can bring back..."

The second shift returns to the bright tone presented at the beginning. It occurs at the end of stanza 3.
Taking into account Doty's background and history, the theme of this poem is to leave the past behind, live life to the fullest, and move on.
Full transcript