devon miller-duggan



“Human Sacrifice, Dogs & Cats Living Together, Human Sacrifice”: A Valentine’s Ghazal for My Husband


I never meant to hitch myself to anyone who owned wing-chairs and Wedgewood.

I was handmade dishes, mismatched-boho-baroque, elaborate odd-breed cats. No dogs.


Textbooks said we’d be each other’s pestilences, tsunamis, daily tornados

just like the star-throwing whirlwinds in cartoon meetings between cats and dogs.


And reasonably so. Two only kids. One bookish, punctilious, self-made, arrogant.

One word-ish, scatter-fingered, spoiled, arrogant. But which the cat? The dog?


You want cat? I’ll lick my paws and call you cream. You want

to go for walks with some critter chasing every bright, live whiff, I’m dog.


We hear the vermin in the walls, and turn Patience until they chew through,

then crunch or shred the things we don’t invite. We’re Hungry. We’re Dogged.


We’re Growl and Threaten in the night. We both have teeth—one’s mouth full of staples

and needles, the other full of nails. We’re dog-tired, ready to dog it, but keeping on dogging


each other’s ghosts. We lie together in stray beams of light. We leash and bell each other.

No human sacrifice necessary. We scratch at each other’s doors, as if we weren’t Cat & Dog.


Devon Miller-Duggan has published poems in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, Christianity and Literature, Gargoyle. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Delaware. Her books include Pinning the Bird to the Wall (2008), Neither Prayer, Nor Bird (2013), and Alphabet Year (2017).