Archived Mountain Voices

Zeke’s gone, but leaves us a blank verse sonnet

Zeke enjoying a snack. Zeke enjoying a snack.

Two German shorthaired pointers named Maggie and Zeke were our constant companions for years. When we went bird watching along the Texas, Gulf and Atlantic coasts, they traveled along in the back of the truck, their heads stuck through the camper top window into the cab.

As a last resort, I would sometimes turn them loose when a particular bird wouldn’t come out of the brush. That tactic generally produced almost instant results.

Frumpy-looking with brown and white cow-like markings — front legs splayed clumsily and slow afoot — Zeke didn’t look the part, but in his prime he was a natural born hunting and fighting dog. There were several bear squabbles I know about. Two of them he picked and didn’t quit but dragged himself home on his shield … as it were … head bashed lop-sided, ear torn, ribs busted in so bad all he could do was lie down and think things over.

The battle with the weasel in the creek ford was hilarious … from my perspective. Every time Zeke’d shake him off the critter would come back and grab him by the nose. Went on that way back and forth for maybe five minutes. I called it a draw but (truth be told) the weasel looked better off at the end.

Zeke was a good friend. Born into a world of smells and subtle frequencies, he studied expressions and listened closely to intonations so as to comprehend human intentions in an uncanny manner.

Toward the end he mellowed. He enjoyed eating fudge ripple ice cream. And against all odds he took to writing sonnets. The one he was working on the week before his death was titled: “Gone to Hell in a Handbasket: A Country Music Sonnet in Blank Verse (14 Lines, 140 Syllables with Occasional Rhymes).”

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The first draft was completed just before he passed away. It goes like this:

Winter was dryly bitter & bone cold.

‘Cept when I went out in the yard to pee

I’d sit in my house by the fireside bright

and work on my next sonnet about me.

My ex-girlfriend Polly wasn’t so bad

but her babies had grown up to be hounds.

Long after I asked them nicely to “Shut Up!”

they still moped around singing Merle Haggard:

‘If we can just make it thru De-cem-bur

ev-ry-thing is go-in’ to be o-kay.’

Well spring’s dun sprung and noth-in is o-kay.

Polly left town with the beagle next door.

If en-ee-one asks ‘bout me you just tell-um:

‘Ole Zeke’s gone to hell in a handbasket.’

After reading it, I told Zeke “I don’t know what to say.”

“Then don’t,” he said.

 (George Ellison is a naturalist and writer. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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