which comes to mind each time

I see them kiss a dog on the mouth.

N

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.

N

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.

N

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.

N

An animal with a given name isn’t an animal anymore.

N

I recall his body lying in the street for hours,

like a dehydrated dog resting on its side,

panting. Except

there was no panting anymore, his lungs deflated like unused footballs.

N

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.

N

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.

N

In Latin, Homo sapiens means wise man.

I am what I am, think and therefore.

N

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.

N

We give dogs the bones we’d prefer to be buried.

N

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.

N

I wait by the door for them to return

before the streetlights flicker alive.