These are the Rules and They Have Been the Rules

Poetry

 

You agreed to look for lost dogs on signs / and you agreed that we are all lost dogs looking for / each other

Poetry by Robert Wood Lynn

 

These are the Rules and They Have Been the Rules

Since before you even thought about being born,
            an action through which you manifested your consent.

You agreed to give foul balls to children under 12 and
            to take photos of tourists when prompted nicely and to curse
                        at motorists but only under your breath.

You agreed to call your mother on all state and federal
            holidays including the dumb ones.

You agreed to hold doors for strangers even the
            assholes in suits who barge right through.

You agreed to kiss the boo boos of all children that
            ask through stifled tears to make it better
                        and you agreed to believe that it will.

You agreed to kiss every person who goes down on you
            and hard and with grace even if you are still wet on their lips.

You agreed to look for lost dogs on signs
            and you agreed that we are all lost dogs looking for
                        each other with a series of signs.

You acknowledged that it will mostly hurt
            and agreed to forget most of it that hurts the most.

You agreed that catcalling is only for cats and
            you agreed to call all cats but only cats, especially
                        late at night in a way that echoes up and down these streets
                                    like its own kind of sign for lost dogs so that we can find you.

Don’t tell me you never asked for this—
            you did a million times by now
                        and you do every time you take a breath
                                    and there
                                                       you just did it
                                    again.


Robert Wood Lynn is writer from Fauquier County, Virginia. He studied painting and poetry at the University of Mary Washington, where he was a 2008 recipient of the school’s Academy of American Poets College Prize. He studied law at the University of Virginia. His poems have been featured or are forthcoming in American Literary Reviewthe Antioch ReviewNatural BridgeSuperstition Review and other publications. Find him on Instagram at @robertlynnyall and at Twitter @RobertLynnYall.

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