LOOKING GLASS FOURTH PLACE: “French Existential Bulldog” by Stefan David Martin

Inspired by: “Dog Mirror” by Liliana Porter

Photo courtesy of  Liliana Porter



by Stefan David Martin


In perhaps the first K9 suicide, our French

bulldog, Albert, ended it all. At five months old

he learned to jump atop the make-up table where

my wife’s magnifying mirror sat, and gaze

upon his own yet bigger image. After ten

minutes, watching this double mimic

his paws scratching at the glass, our clever boy

caught on at last: c’est moi, ce chien!


From then on, he leapt up there only to stare

at his own abyssal eyes. Without a treat

tempting enough to tear him away, we often fed

our contemplative puppy where he sat. We thought

Camus, if still alive, would write about our pet’s

existential angst in some condensed

novel like The Stranger. He ignored

all the balls we tossed, our tug-of-war

invites after that, his furry face

always, somehow, asking “What

(silly humans) is the point?”


When at last we shut our bedroom door

forcing Albert to get out more, he saw

a bus pull up to a stop. His tender tongue

licked my leg and then my wife’s as if to say

“Thanks for the food, but choose I must,” before

he bolted across the street and crouched beneath

that formerly scary vehicle. We buried

his little body on a hill out back, and rolled

one large stone over the lonely grave.

Judge Stephen Gibson’s comments: “This is a wildly engaging narrative, playful in its riff (ruff), deserving inclusion in the top five.”

Though born in Montreal, Stefan grew up monolingually on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When he’s not teaching the world one language instead of learning others (a.k.a. ESL), he’s inspecting old buildings for asbestos content and experiences for signs of poetry. He studied creative writing at VIU and UVic, and his work has appeared in Nomos Journal.