Photography · Poetry · Riley · Weston · Words Written

Dog by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The dog trots freely in the street

and sees reality

and the things he sees

are bigger than himself

and the things he sees

are his reality

Drunks in doorways

Moons on trees

The dog trots freely thru the street

and the things he sees

are smaller than himself

Fish on newsprint

Ants in holes

Chickens in Chinatown windows

their heads a block away

The dog trots freely in the street

and the things he smells

smell something like himself

The dog trots freely in the street

past puddles and babies

cats and cigars

poolrooms and policemen

He doesn’t hate cops

He merely has no use for them

and he goes past them

and past the dead cows hung up whole

in front of the San Francisco Meat Market

He would rather eat a tender cow

than a tough policeman

though either might do

And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory

and past Coit’s Tower

and past Congressman Doyle

He’s afraid of Coit’s Tower

but he’s not afraid of Congressman Doyle

although what he hears is very discouraging

very depressing

very absurd

to a sad young dog like himself

to a serious dog like himself

But he has his own free world to live in

His own fleas to eat

He will not be muzzled

Congressman Doyle is just another

fire hydrant

to him

The dog trots freely in the street

and has his own dog’s life to live

and to think about

and to reflect upon

touching and tasting and testing everything

investigating everything

without benefit of perjury

a real realist

with a real tale to tell

and a real tail to tell it with

a real live

              barking

                         democratic dog

engaged in real

                      free enterprise

with something to say

                             about ontology

something to say

                        about reality

                                        and how to see it

                                                               and how to hear it

with his head cocked sideways

                                       at streetcorners

as if he is just about to have

                                       his picture taken

                                                             for Victor Records

                                  listening for

                                                   His Master’s Voice

                      and looking

                                       like a living questionmark

                                                                 into the

                                                              great gramaphone

                                                           of puzzling existence

                 with its wondrous hollow horn

                         which always seems

                     just about to spout forth

                                                      some Victorious answer

                                                              to everything

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Dog” from A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems. Copyright © 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1958)

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