JC Reilly

Pine Row Issue No. 4 Winter 2021 - Featured Poet

You and That Old Dog

He was old when you found him,

probably six or seven, scuttling by the pier,

scrounging for food, a threadbare Catahoula

belonging to no one, who lived beneath

some old crates and newspapers when he could.

Sometimes, longshoremen would chase him

off, but you kept your eyes out for him

when you docked. Made sure to have an extra

sandwich. The dog seemed to sense a friend.

He would roll over the rough planks on the pier

as soon as he saw you, his feet dancing in the air,

or curling in on himself like the shrimp

you’d brought in from the days’ catch.

He’d gobble down the sandwich like a last meal—

for him, maybe it always seemed like the last meal.

When you brought him home, I fell in love

with his goofy smile, his dinged-up nose,

his one blue eye one brown—and if he loved you,

it was nothing to his love for me—how he minced

as he walked by, dainty as an old lady at tea,

so careful never to knock anything over in the house.

How he begged me for a scratch, how he fetched

anything I tossed, even garbage into the can.

If you noticed his changing loyalties, you didn’t

seem to mind. I wondered, sometimes,

if you brought Boudreaux home to be kind

to the dog, or really to me, to give me something

to fuss over after I lost the baby—and my mind.

> Hear it:

listen to this poem read by the poet on SoundCloud

Interview with JC Reilly

by Pine Row Editorial Board

How did you get started as a poet?

I wrote a couple of terrible poems as a child which my father kindly included in a notebook of poetry he was writing at the time. But it wasn’t until I started reading poetry for my English degree and taking creative writing classes in college that I fell in love with writing. The college poems weren’t all that great either, but I have improved since then!

Do you show your work in progress to anyone?

I have a friend who I sometimes send a poem or two when I write her a letter. I used to have a writing group—and I still believe in their value—but after six or so years, it kind of fizzled out. I miss it though—having a group of writer friends to be accountable to (as well as to get their feedback) is invaluable, and I recommend it to everyone.

Who are three influential living poets?

Tracey Smith, Ilya Kaminski, and Jackie Kay

How did you first get published?

I got published in my college literary journal, of course!

Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” –Groucho Marx

What would you say is your most interesting writing habit?

I generally write with a cat on me. My cat Jenny (who is by no means small) will routinely get up on my shoulder and sit there while I’m working on a poem and seem not at all bothered by the fact she is heavy and purring loudly and distractingly into my ear. I don’t love this “habit” but I’m kind of used to it now.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

Book? Book, singular??? Hahaha. I have at least a dozen waiting for me, but right now I’m reading Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson. Slowly.

Anything else you'd like us to know? (personal website, upcoming reading or new work, etc. )

I have a somewhat updated blog, at www.jcreilly.com, and people can always tweet at me @aishatonu. I serve as the Managing Editor of Atlanta Review, and I have work coming out in Rougarou and Barely South Review, and hopefully before the end of the year, my award-winning chapbook Amo e Canto (from Sow’s Ear Press) will be released. (But it might be Spring of ‘22.)

JC Reilly is the author of the full-length poetry collection What Magick May Not Alter (Madville Publishing 2020) and a handful of chapbooks. She is very tired and would enjoy hibernating like a bear for the next few months. You can visit JC at the site www.jcreilly.com, and/or tweet @aishatonu.