Joshua Coben


Stopping by the Living Room
on My Way up to Bed

Whose turds these are I think I know.
He figured I would be too slow
To catch him defecating here
Instead of going in the snow.

My little dog must think it queer
To keep a plastic baggie near
And wrap each specimen I take
That nature would let disappear.

He gives his collar tags a shake
As if to say it’s no mistake
To leave a mound two inches deep
On carpet, for convenience’ sake.

My wife and kids insist we keep
This mutt who made the stinking heap
That I must scoop before I sleep,
That I must scoop before I sleep.

Joshua Coben’s first book, Maker of Shadows (Texas Review Press, 2010), won the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. His second collection, Night Chaser (David Robert Books, 2020), was a finalist for the Vassar Miller Prize, the New American Poetry Prize, and the Donald Justice Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, College English, Pleiades, Poet Lore, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. Visit him online at