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Llama Days
Philip Dacey


Because today I walked a llama back home,
I have a new standard for all my coming days.
Just minutes with the llama made this one a poem
of kindly wonders, long-necked woolly praise.

I'd been raking leaves, bent forward, head down,
eyes on my country acre, so that when
I raised them and saw at my driveway's end
a llama standing tall there, checking me out,

I was all stammer and gawk and disbelief
until I thought of Leon, my neighbor half-
a-mile away, whose land was mostly zoo,
menagerie, whatever, I called him Doo-

little, the animal doctor himself,
though Leon was no vet, just one big heart
for anything that walked on paw, web, or hoof--
goat, peacock, sheep, horse, donkey, mink, hare, hart.

But llama? I'd never noticed one before,
though no doubt my surprise at seeing him
was matched by his at seeing me--or more
than matched, he being lost, freedom become

a burden twice as bad as any bars,
so much so panic struck and he turned back,
high-stepping it onto the road, two-lane, tarred,
and I saw the headline, "Llama killed by truck."

Dropping the rake, I raced to rescue him,
who now stood frozen, straddling the centerline,
looking this way and that; oh, too much room,
too little clue. I had to herd him to Leon.

With slow approach and arms a traffic cop's,
I eased him into action in the lane
leading to llama-chow and fell into step
beside him; well, sort of, his two to my one.

I talked him down the road, an unbroken string
of chatter my invisible halter and rein:
“Howyadoin? Where'd you think you were going?
A little farther now, big guy. You'll be just fine.”

Luckily, no car came to make him bolt,
though I almost wished for one, wanting someone
to see us, like old friends out for a stroll,
shoulder to shoulder in the morning sun.

Once we got close enough to what he knew,
he was gone, down the right driveway this time,
and I was left alone to wave goodbye: “You
take care now.” His thanks silent. “You're welcome.”

I don't expect the llama to escape again.
Leon 's repaired a fence, no doubt, or gate.
So I know tomorrow I'll have to find my own,
invent one, a facsimile, and I can't wait.

Already I see him coming like a dream,
disguised as odd events, encounters, small dramas
worth at least a laugh. Let “He walked his llama home”
be my epitaph. I wish you lots of llamas.

This poem first appeared in the Cumberland Poetry Review (2004).
Used here with permission of the author’s literary estate.



Philip Dacey (1939 - 2016) authored fourteen books and published hundreds of poems in journals and magazines. After teaching for 34 years at Southwest Minnesota State University, he moved to New York City for a post-retirement adventure on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Eight years later, having accomplished all his intended goals there, Philip returned to Minnesota to live in the Lake District of Minneapolis with his partner, the poet Alixa Doom. Learn more about Philip at 



Post New Comment:
I truly enjoyed this moving, appealing narrative poem! Janice
Posted 12/29/2016 07:47 PM
I live in the middle of nowhere, and have walked goats, cows, and horses home but never a llama. Thank you for this peaceful stroll down the same road I've trod in the past.
Posted 12/29/2016 07:20 PM
I like the fact that though there is rhyme and meter, it reads like a prose narrative, a great story. I appreciate the wisdom in "freedom become a burden twice as bad as any bars"
Posted 12/29/2016 05:28 PM
Such a cheerful story. A small drama, a lllama. Glory.
Posted 12/29/2016 02:56 PM
Loved it :)
Posted 12/29/2016 02:45 PM
A wonderful poem. May we all have lots of llamas in the new year.
Posted 12/29/2016 11:50 AM
Lori Levy:
Great poem!
Posted 12/29/2016 09:27 AM
Sometimes the poem you post hits such a chord. A llama on the road, "disguised as odd events...worth at least a laugh." Thank you.
Posted 12/29/2016 08:51 AM
Larry Schug:
I can never get enough by Phil Dacey. I don't recall hearing of his passing (our loss) in 2016. Of course, this makes this poem even more personally bittersweet today. A reading by Phil Dacey was an event, a blur, a story from one end to the other.
Posted 12/29/2016 07:38 AM
I wish everyone a New Year filled with llamas!
Posted 12/29/2016 07:27 AM
It is those llama moments that make us remember to not forget.
Posted 12/29/2016 05:57 AM
Loved it.j
Posted 12/29/2016 04:57 AM

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