clouds of hungry dogs

by Gabriel Ricard

When the old man begins to talk
he goes on for hours and hours,
and no one can understand a word he says.

But in his head,
because that part of the world is still throwing
the “Closed/Gone Home” sign up in the air
while the trumpets scream victory,
every word is a lightning bolt that grips
the attention of a long desert where good men hide like dogs.

It’s as though every wisecrack from above
is a steel-toe boot on the glistening dance floor.

He can see the six-year-old counting
the money he stole for a cab ride to Toronto.

He can remember the prostitute
with a heart of different orphaned birds getting together
to take back the power lines and landfill monuments.

Always so concerned with keeping both hands
on her grandmother’s wheelchair that she didn’t care
about her sunglasses being crooked every hour of the day.

He tells everyone around him about her. Everyone in turn
nods at inappropriate moments and wonders if he’s worth filming.
They find that there’s so much detail to take in
when they watch their coffee cool.

Does he remember the woman who laughed
every time the baby came into the world stillborn
and made a living in her twilight years by chewing apart
unopened soup cans?

Yeah, she’s in there, too.

No one knows that this guy really didn’t spend
a lot of time living a life worth a completely different
madman running on and on about it.

Never married. Spent a lot of time losing things
that weren’t even his to begin with. Started a novel
in his teens, realized J.D. Salinger had stolen it from his dreams
and quietly put it in a drawer when he finished it after retiring.

Did every single car on the GW Bridge really stop once?
Did everyone really get out, and trust the frozen water to break their fall?

He says it did. He sees it as clearly as the son he never had,
but often runs into,
when his luck is so vivid that he loses his hands
trying to touch the train it’s riding.

Newlyweds are always heading to the coast in his stories.
Farmhouses are always falling to man-made nature instead.

If someone even wanted to try to understand him,
if someone even wanted to try to pretend they could,
that might make a difference.

It wouldn’t make up for the life he didn’t have,
but it would do something.

It would give his endless cast a chance
to break all their messy, hopelessly stable patterns.


Author's Note: i'm reading "the heart is a lonely hunter", and something in it gave me the idea for this.

Posted on 06/05/2012
Copyright © 2022 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 06/06/12 at 03:40 PM

Seems I'm always trying to find new ways to describe and express my delight in your work Gabriel. As so many times before, a pleasure to read, and digest the various images. Love how you brought in a Canadian connection to this one: He can see the six-year-old counting the money he stole for a cab ride to Toronto. As you've no doubt heard in the news of late, parts of Canada have reaffirmed their infamy for bizarre crime, with what's been going on in Montreal, and then the shooting in Toronto. Perhpas not the best publicity fo what is otherwsie a great country to live in.

Posted by Laura Doom on 06/09/12 at 08:07 PM

Natural manufacture at its unstable finest...

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