LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI

Dog

Poet, playwright, publisher, and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born Lawrence Monsanto Ferling on March 24, 1919 in Yonkers, New York. His father, an Italian immigrant, had shortened the family name upon arrival in America. When Ferlinghetti discovered the lengthier name as an adult, he took it…






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

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