Obedience School by Kristin Garth

Obedience School

I’m there that day you send the last away
with nipping needle teeth, she may outgrow
one day — the half-hearted sobriquet
uttered as you latch her last leash then go.
She was the favored younger child
who never returned, I know, because she growled
and made you bleed, transmogrified wild
by desperate need. She recedes, uncowed,
from your conditioned world where I live on,
the educated girl determined, even
when disciplined, that my denouement
will find me licking at your feet again
while you ponder whether you have grown cruel.
It is a word unlearned at obedience school.


Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 21 books of poetry including Crow Carriage (Sweet Tooth Story Books) and The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and the editor of seven anthologies. She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Sonnet by Sharon Waller Knutson


She says her mother named
her Sonnet because she loved
Edna St. Vincent Millay and read
her Love is Not Blind in the crib.

In her Mickey Mouse voice,
she tells us she has rescued
a newborn wren that needs
to be fed every 30 minutes.

Left it in a cage in her two-bedroom
apartment along with the bulldog,
Border Collie, two Siamese
and five four-week-old kittens.

Baby birds are fragile. Hope it survives
while I’m at work for three hours,
she says smiling as Shirley Temple
curls fall on her forehead.

Cool, she says as I tell her again
to please hang up my mother-
in-law’s silk blouses and slacks
and brand new birthday dress

and not wad them up and throw
them in the hamper like wrappers
and to wring out the wet towels
and hang them up to dry.

We are watching videos
when my mother-in-law
rings the bell rigged to her recliner.
As we rush in, she says, Wake her up!

Sonnet is sleeping soundly
and surprised when we shake
her shoulders and like a Stepford
Wife, she stands up and grins

as she gently lifts my mother-
in-law from the recliner
and wheels her to the hospital
bed and tucks her in.


Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in a wildlife habitat in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields by Flutter Press and What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Her work has also appeared in various journals most recently in Mad Swirl, Trouvaille Review, Muddy River Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review and The Song Is…