The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


William Trowbridge

Oldguy: Superhero Takes His Driver's Test


Six crushed pylons,
three lopped hydrants,
two stop signs,
one No U-Turn sign,
four pedestrian near-misses,
one vegetable stand,
five outdoor cafe tables,
one Macy’s display window,
seven mannequins,
one Salvation Army bucket,
eight cars—five parked
three moving—two meters,
the Oldguymobile’s front end,
rear end, and door panels,
plus two cops a-leaping,
three maids a-freaking,
four burps form Aetna,
eight coups in Asia,
earthquake in Orange,
and a poodle in a pear tree.



William Trowbridge

Dogs are Former Angels


See how they thrust their noses
out the window of the Galaxy,

as if reliving when they sported wings,
which they surrendered -- Good-bye,

barrel rolls and Immelmanns! -- to mind
our follies and offer ears and bellies

to our kinder side. Think how they forgive
our swats and curses, how they lift us,

jubilating down the hall and back
when we slouch in from a leaden day,

how they stare at us, heads tilted,
bemused, wondering if we’ll ever

learn to live. “Don’t be such a priss,”
they demonstrate, snuffling crotches

and rear ends, scratching when it itches.
They nap on Alert, in case we drop

some food or something foreign’s
nearing our domain. When they

doze deeper, paws and noses twitching,
they’re back in paradise chasing around

its aromatic lawns. They teach us how
to face a missing leg or blindness.

“When’s dinner?”they seem to ask
when pain has ebbed. They show

no dread at death, lying down in some
quiet spot, though they’d pine for us

in loud long-Os. They leave with grace,
and we’re diminished when they go.




WILLIAM TROWBRIDGE's graphic chapbook, Oldguy: Superhero, was published by Red Hen Press in March. His new full collection, Vanishing Point, is forthcoming from Red Hen in April, 2017. His other collections are Put This On, Please: New and Selected Poems, Ship of Fool, The Complete Book of Kong, Flickers, O Paradise, and Enter Dark Stranger. He is a faculty mentor in the University of Nebraska Omaha Low-residency MFA in Writing Program and was Poet Laureate of Missouri from 2012 to 2016. For more information, see his website at



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