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The Dog as Healer, the Snake as Cure

March 11, 2010

by Jeffery Beam

And there are records of many cures
effected by the healing tongues of both
dogs & serpents during the incubation
of those who came praying for healing.

Maria Leach, God Had a Dog

Fear nothing, no matter
what. In your sleep, that perilous
place, will come
dogs & serpents licking
with their tongues.
Ointments will be spread,
foul odors & sharp pain
diminished. Wounds healed
miraculously. Sorrows erased.
The narrow hairy face
of man’s best friend, your
four-legged mentor, will
embrace you. The serpent
in your belly will laugh.
Fear nothing, no matter
what. It has been
this way
And will be

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Jeffery Beam (website) is the author of numerous award-winning books of poetry including An Invocation, The Beautiful Tendons: Uncollected Queer Poems 1969 – 2007, Visions of Dame Kind, An Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold, The Fountain , and the spoken word CD with multimedia, What We Have Lost: New and Selected Poems 1977-2001. The song cycle, Life of the Bee, with composer Lee Hoiby, continues to be performed on the international stage, and can be heard on Albany Record’s New Growth.  Beam is poetry editor of the print and online literary journal Oyster Boy Review and a botanical librarian in the Biology-Chemistry Library at UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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  1. Peg
    March 11, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Enjoyed this, especially the image of tongues both within and out.

    *sinks fingers into scruff of own fuzzy four-legged tongue-bath provider*

  2. March 12, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Hello there, Jeffery!
    Is this a one-off or do you have more clever new poems about doggy folklore and eternal doggie-dom? I see the Leach quote is from a big fat academic tome of 1961, and I bet it’s full of enticing little facts.

  3. March 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    What a great reading, I felt tremors through my gut. Love the implications about healing, whether for dog or human.

  4. March 16, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Mysterious. I really love this! And as an animal person, it vindicates my preference for critters.

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