He’s Fine with a Little College (or, All Those Pups)

By Jeff Tigchelaar 

Featured Art: Atlas the Pup by Troy Goins and Mallory Valentour

College is for people who think

they’re too good to work.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m fine

with a little college, as long as it’s

in a Lego set, like.

But the kind with full-size

buildings and professors . . .

that right there’s a different sack of bait.


But you know what? Life’s like a dogsled team.

Unless you’re in the lead, the scene don’t change.

All those pups, yipping and chomping

to get ahead and be up front . . . but

the top dog’s been chosen from the start.

And that one mutt might not have to

have his nose up the asshole in front of him,

but guess what he’s got right behind him. A dog.

And another dog, and another and another. A whole

damn pack, and a few feet back there’s a sled

and you know who’s standing on that sled?

The man.

And everyone thinks the man stands alone.

But he’s got corporate sponsorship and maybe a ladyfriend

or two he might lose if the huskies don’t mush.

And if you think sex and money

is all he’s after, you’ve got another frame to bowl, brother,

because there’s only one thing really driving that man, and it’s this:


He wants to win the damn Iditarod.


You want to know who wins the Iditarod?

One man. And you don’t

ever hear them talking about the dogs. Not even

the lead dog.

Just the man.


Unless it’s a woman.

It’s often a woman, you know.

Jeff Tigchelaar’s poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, North American Review, Pleiades, Court Green, Hunger Mountain, Harpur Palate, and The Laurel Review, and in anthologies such as Verse Daily, Best New Poets, and New Poetry from the Midwest. His first book, Certain Streets at an Uncertain Hour, won the 2016 Kansas Authors Club Nelson Poetry Book Award. Recently, he was runner-up for the 2019 Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry, and a finalist in the Chad Walsh Chapbook Series.

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