which comes to mind each time
I see them kiss a dog on the mouth.
A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s
only because our best friends cannot say
the things acquaintances do about us.
Yesterday the choice word was infestation;
today it will be something else because it has to be
for things to carry on normatively.
That used to mean a house in the suburbs,
a trimmed lawn and picket fence, two children
and a hyperactive puppy to toss the frisbee to;
that used to mean people tensed up when the
moving vans came barreling down the block. It still does.
But, anyway, I really do love myself a pooch,
have kept two such companions thus far in life.
The first of them slept in a cage at night,
the second only had to slip past an electric fence.
What I’m saying is that I’ve evolved on the issue of incarceration.
An animal with a given name isn’t an animal anymore.
I recall his body lying in the street for hours,
like a dehydrated dog resting on its side,
there was no panting anymore, his lungs deflated like unused footballs.
My chest rises and falls faster the more I anger.
My blood carries narrative.
I hear whistles most days that it seems my neighbors can’t.
My parents gave me a name out of love.
They’re animals anyway, so let them lose their souls,
said the Sicilian crime boss in a movie I adore.
All it takes is a little provocation and the teeth are prone.
I’m talking about dogs here.
Nothing will love a man better or be more steadfast.
I love hard, but I need to love harder.
In Latin, Homo sapiens means wise man.
I am what I am, think and therefore.
I recognize the games being played on the big board:
putting people in cages, changing names to numeric codes.
People don’t talk about that as much
as they talk about their pets, I find.
We give dogs the bones we’d prefer to be buried.
The first human remains were actually found in Africa,
dated back hundreds of thousands of years.
Just the other day, somebody told me to go back there
as if I could do so without taking them with me.
Into me. Into tenderness.
I wait by the door for them to return
before the streetlights flicker alive.