SEPPALA KENNELS PRESENTS here a small collection of poems written over the years by J. Jeffrey Bragg. At first this will be just my dog-related work, because that's what I can most easily lay hands on to post here. I need to go digging in boxes and old files for some of my other work, though there is not a lot of it. I've written poetry off and on for most of my adult life, but rather more off than on; lately I've started to take it more seriously. The major poets whom I most admire are Wallace Stevens, Theodore Roethke, and Alfred Lord Tennyson; but I have a lot of one-off favourite poems by other authors. I should put a list on this page and will try to do so when I can find time to compile one.
Elegy For a Fifteen Year Old Sleddog - This is my first attempt at a really long poem. My overriding priority in this long poem was absolute honesty of feeling and speech; everything else had to take a back seat. In it I also attempted tributes to a few elegiac poets of the past; my intent was to emulate their respective styles but not to parody them. I hope I succeeded.
Elegy For a Fifteen Year Old Sleddog — Coda: Out of the Romantic Heart - A very personal afternote somewhat in the manner of Walt Whitman, written over five years after the death of Tonya.
Elegy For a Fifteen Year Old Sleddog — Afterword - The last word and resolution of the personal process of grieving for Tonya. Here the Existence overrules the ego, healing all the pain.
Looking for Tonya: A Meditation on Death and the Canine Soul - This is not a poem. A prose essay, I'm including it because it's closely related to the Elegy and contains the seeds from which that work grew. What happens when a cherished canine companion dies? Do dogs have souls? Is there a "Rainbow Bridge"? And how does a person cope with the loss of a fifteen years' sidekick?
Rondo For Sleddogs - This is a sleddog villanelle. The villanelle is one of my favourite short poetic forms, well exemplified by such works as Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" and Theodore Roethke's "The Waking."
The Trail to Glory - A Yukon dog driver's "tall tale" inspired, I suppose, by having listened a lot to a 78 rpm record called "De Glory Road" sung by Lawrence Tibbet, when I was just a kid.
Windigo - Jeffrey's tribute to Karcajou's Dreama of Windigo, my first Seppala bitch "the second time around" and favourite sidekick in Spain and early Yukon days. She wasn't really as scary as this poem makes her out to be!
Siggy the DORG - A tongue-in-cheek poetic description of my solemn, shy and dearly beloved Chinook sidekick Siggy.
Chance Encounter - On a snowy walk in the Manitoba parkland in late February, I meet up with a tiny Hoary Redpoll.
Trying to Write Poetry at 2 A.M. - Trying to write when it's too late at night and my mind is a blank.
Deconstruction - A highly subjective and emotional little rant about "deconstruction" (in the philosophical sense popularised by Jacques Derrida), life, poetry and old age.