Top 10 List by Donald Dunbar

Editor Staff, Editor's Choice, November 1st, 2012

You have no idea just how many puppies went into making this list. Well over 11, though.

Jeff Koons, Puppy


A truck is only rarely needed, but when it’s needed it’s needed ever-so-badly. For instance, I have a sedan, and it would take three trips to move so many boxes and we’d have to carry the table itself ourselves.

Sometimes a truck’s usefulness will reveal itself only after a long time and suddenly.

The hours fold themselves up, and suddenly it’s Mobile, Alabama, 2003, and we need to drive out to the railroad to drink so we’re too drunk to drive back, and so we sleep there, in the truck bed, all of us.


The secrets of your lover are difficult to earn, but once they’re yours, you’ll want to take them everywhere.

So you’re shipped overseas, and as much as you thought you were just a year ago you realize you’re that much less than that. You’re nothing, really.

Your friends will become different friends while you’re gone, your lover will love others, you might be killed. Or you decide to grow old, and soon your body doesn’t know how to do anything.

Or perhaps you are brought to a party by your friends, and although at first you think you’d rather be elsewhere, soon you have a few drinks, and if there’s anything else, you have that too.

How nice it will be to luxuriate then, in the comfort of the sun, even if it’s night.


The iPhone is a source of excellent advice, and encourages others to feel gratefully towards you. It will solve disputes, catalog your days, negotiate the world for you. It will delight them, it will almost immediately find them the nearest emergency room, it will explain.

An iPhone does not exactly display abundance, but witnesses to your devotion. Here is a person who tithes every month for instant truth. Here is you. Though it is not now, not yet, eventually the love of a person with an iPhone will be the love of the congregation, the love of the priest, the saint, the holy spirit of love.

This is for all of us.

You thought you were one thing, but you are the love of the elect, here, now.


If you’re going to show up with an iPhone, you may as well bring along some Pabst Blue Ribbon.


But, you’d say, wouldn’t I impress them more with a Trappist ale or a home-brew IPA? But you’re young yet. That’s why you’d say that.

The point is not to impress them, but to excuse yourself through your lack of pretension, your assumption that many people would come to see those who you visit, your drunkenness.


Surprise, kids! Surprise!

Here you are, arriving just now, and what’s that you’ve got with you?




Please, God, no more pet entrails…

The puppies thread the room around you, knot the belly-button of the room.

God damn, mother fucker.

God damn, they’ll say, mother fucking—

And then you can say, to great effect, so long as these puppies are here, shitting their adorable little khaki shits on absolutely everything, oh fuck God!

Fuck God.

Fuck God, who is a category of thought that transcends all categories of thought, and all states of being and non-being.

Wag, wag, wag. Wait,


(The principal effect of puppies is a loss of any sort of rational perspective. This is no human frailty, but is a function of the puppies themselves; they are so cute. People you wouldn’t otherwise meet will introduce themselves, seek to ingratiate themselves to you, pleasure you for the sake of puppies. These people will do anything they can. Because you’re that sort of person, it seems. Exactly the sort of the person who would seek to mold animals, hundreds of little animals, into the likeness of a person. How could an already-human keep their head around one such as you?)


A present / An accent is always needed in the upper echelons of society, as they say, if you want them to fall in love with you / fall in love with you.


All the very best people have no defense against a present / an accent, whereas all the rest couldn’t care less. Have you ever given a present to a thief? Have you ever whispered nothing nothing nothing in French in the ear of a prince? Which love rewards you more / which love do you reward?


Arriving with grace is hardly arriving at all, and many, the ungraceful especially, will not recognize a graceful arrival as anything at all. Their skin may flush or prickle at the shift in the air current, their nose may drink of your subtle perfume, their posture may straighten and their pupils dilate ever-so-slightly, but when you descend into the civilians, bathed in light, each cord of muscle doing its exact work and no more, the civilians will bury their faces in the screen.

Let them.

They will inhale the air on the screen, and they will scream in channels and through routers.

Let ’em talk. Let ’em stay. Let them say / let them lie. Let ’em snitch, let them be, let them die. They will hate you without ever spending the time of a thought on that they do. Haters gonna hate / it ain’t your fault they at the bottom.


An old friend, like a lifetime of reading books, will have taught you how to empathize, which will have taught you how to look at yourself. By the time you arrive, an old friend will have taught you so much that if it were any other thing it would no longer be necessary.

But there’s a particular feeling that arriving at a certain spot at a certain time and finding an old friend there that is otherwise unavailable to you: that all your past selves died natural deaths. If you find yourself without an old friend, you may as well be wading through a crowd of assassins.


Perhaps you’ve never ridden yet in an ambulance, and perhaps if you have you’ve only woken up in one.

Maybe you have, but only to a very certain spot at a very certain time.

Or all the time, all over.

Perhaps you’ve done it so often you don’t think anything of it at all ever.

How sad it all was, you think, you thought.

Seeing them all, each of them, in their most personal moment, finding no reflection at all.


1.10: A puppy named “Silver Dollar”

1.9: A puppy named “Yard Dancer”

1.8: A puppy with two tails, that looks so beautiful

1.7: A puppy named “A Tail of Two Dogs”

1.6: A beautiful puppy that is the model of sexlessness

1.5: A puppy named “If you have twenty-six Americans to kill, and you’ve already killed seventeen of them, how many Americans are left to kill?”

1.4: A puppy shaped perfectly like a jolly guy named “Jon Conradi” behaving perfectly like a perfect puppy

1.3: A serious puppy, named “Penitence,” who weeps for want of love

1.2: A puppy universal oblongata, put to sleep

1.1: and the number one puppy of the number one thing to arrive with
A puppy named, “The Story of Fire”, designing the world as it moves through it


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Contributor Donald Dunbar grew up in the Midwest, then received an MFA from the University of Arizona.

He co-curates the reading series If Not For Kidnap and teaches poetry to future chefs at Oregon Culinary Institute.

His first book, Eyelid Lick, was published as part of the Fence Modern Poets Series in November of 2012.

[Jeff Koons “Puppy” image: Creative Commons]





More than one editor and/or contributor was responsible for the completion of this piece on NAILED.