2011 Dog by Ben Rasnic

(after reading Ferlinghetti’s “Dog”)

The dog no longer trots
freely down the street
but in a smothering choke hold
from his master’s leather leash.

And what he sees
are not the things
he was bred to see,
riding in cars rather than chasing,
strapped into a safety harness, slobbering
on the upholstery & power windows.

The dog no longer trots
freely down the street
and what he sees
are not the things he was bred to see–

caged kennels
with concrete walkways,
high maintenance pooches
with matching sweaters and caps.

No longer does he explore
whatever avenues his nose points him toward;
no longer does he exude
the pronounced swagger of his forefathers
on the prowl for a piece of tail
down some seedy alleyway.

And if he barks at the moon,
they will camouflage barbiturates
in his doggy chow
or surgically remove his larynx
to comply with local nuisance laws.

Now he must endure
with shame and disgrace,
the image of his master on all fours
with metal scoop and plastic bag
to remove his once proud
public excretions.

And he must be thinking to himself
what other free thinkers
are thinking,
“What has happened to my America?”

and to those who prefer
to walk these streets with blinders on,
the dog raises his flea infested
left hind leg
in salute.

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