A Dog on the Beat

Commemorating Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Centenary Birthday
By Dylan Brody, May 2019
 “Cosmo the MU Dog” with calligraphy by Sanje Elliott, dog portrait by Don Ed Hardy. Scroll mounting with hand-dyed indigo silk by Liza Dalby.

“Cosmo the MU Dog” with calligraphy by Sanje Elliott, dog portrait by Don Ed Hardy. Scroll mounting with hand-dyed indigo silk by Liza Dalby.

Lawrence Furlinghetti ran freely in the street. He wrote no poetry in his head, planned no conversations with middle management. His deadlines determined by stomach and dark, he sniffed the world for adventure and followed no schedule. He was no watch dog.

The sidewalks and alleyways padded under and away behind him, scented for friends to know his passage. His leg lifts and paw touches each a gentle mark for the finding.

Lawrence Furlinghetti ran freely in the street. Ginsbear and Corso ran with him for a bit, near noon beneath the near-stopped sun, but its quiet overhead arc saw them off to elsewhere, amiable in parting, all the wags and pants strewn wide and away.

Joy of action bundled him on, all soft and shiny for the admiration of the bitches, claws clicking on pavement. This city home, this cubist construct no disguise for a world he knew and always would was just a ball, all gray and tall, honked laughing to him in the language of modernity.

Lawrence Furlinghetti ran freely in the street, the big and small of sky and scraper, ants and scraps about him uncompared. Fast food wrapper trash drew salivating want from deep cavern muzzle snuffle, tongue hung long for bonus sense of dream taste desire.

GET THE BARK IN YOUR INBOX!

Sign up for our newsletter and stay in the know.

Email Address:

The fast and slow of cars and crosswalks filled him to the jowls, flopping with each step past perfumed skirts and nicotine trousers over leather luscious shoes. No. Bad. No shoes. No. Bad dog.

Onward, turning blocks to territory Lawrence Furlinghetti ran. Freely in the street he grinned and strangers, some, said, “Handsome boy!” or “Come, boy, come,” but on he ran, dismissive of their rescue fantasy offers, their new dog hopes, their hero dreams of gratitude and hugs, a child in happy tears. Others, fearful, gave unneeded space, seeing teeth projected danger, rage, a rabid temper rigged to twig, averted eyes and Lawrence in his breathing chuckled dominant in his world and trotted off, trotted on.

He ran his beat, about the glass glitter neighborhood and past the out-pushed stoops where pungent lady smoked and paperback boy read, stretched and high and lounging across three steps. Both knew him well, if not his name, and casually greeted him as he passed. He’d stop some days for pets and scratches, let them talk, trade love for love, but not today.

Lawrence Furlinghetti ran freely in the street, tight dodging through the light-stopped growl of traffic, overheating in the summer slowdown. Horn bleating herds of chrome and plastic called for order some deep-gene want drove him to impose but he would not shout nipping at the heels of all the world to stay in close. He knew the impulse of his ancestors, not as an imperative but as a gentle touch of history, a soft and comforting voice barking back across millennia. The great, great granddogs, working with the two-leg shepherds, bringing flocks to shearing, cattle for the milking or the slaughter, touched his ruff through tufts of time. As happy in their work as he now in his liberty, they urged him on, unenvying, supportive, baying songs of immortal love that echo down the ages. So, running on, he let the traffic course its way, unchased and uncontrolled.

Lawrence Furlinghetti ran freely in the street.

The turning orb pulled shadows long and only for a moment he lay, sheltered from the warm, paw-cradled face flat down in shade. Then up again, he made the final turn for home, where bowl and bed awaited, boy brother and tall parents, their laughter his joy.

In safe again, and hearing glow box murmur on in voices familiar but unknown, he sensed the trepidation, rising fears, concerns too big for him to hold, of broken worlds and post-apocalyptic presents, he lay to listen, to make soft sounds of comfort should any of them pause to care.

Tomorrow he would race again, and every day the air allowed. In twitching dreams, as in his love-blessed life, Lawrence Furlinghetti ran freely in the streets.

Dylan Brody is an award-winning humorist, playwright, author, performer, radio personality and personal writing guru. He spends afternoons with his lovely wife at the dog park with their two dogs.

FROM AROUND THE WEB