The Politics of Dogs
They let the residents with the dogs out first thing in the morning.
Some of the leashes are long and
the dogs seem to lead the way,
their noses in the grass.
A few bark at the other dogs, the inmates, the guards.
One mongrel leads an inmate towards
the chain link fenced, topped with razor wire,
a bird perched on top.
This could be a day in the park -
without women or children.
One young man with dark tattoos on his face
carries his sleek red chihuahua doberman mix in his hands.
"Do you like dogs?" he asks a free staff member.
"He's a good boy, listens to everything is said.
Eats well and won't mess in the cell."
The dog shakes either frightened from
the cold or the presence of strangers.
I reach out to touch him, but he lifts
his paws and pushes my hands away.
The other students are now exiting
their buildings and the yard is filling
with basketball players, men walking the circle,
and guards in sunglasses watching it all
from their bench as if this were a day at the arena.
Red dogs, brown dogs, black dogs and a white one
glisten in the sun.
Suddenly, near the pull up bars,
a young black man in blue and grey
tosses a ball.
The white dog runs after it,
leaps in the air and turns around and catches it.
Everyone watches and then some applause.
The dog sits down, ball in mouth and waits.
The master stands and waits
and everyone has stopped, waiting
to see what will happen in the next few moments.
The guards stand up off their bench and
the white dog just sits there,
watching the owner, watching the yard,
waiting for approval of its master
or the condemnation that he was
used to (he's a rescue)
in his previous life on the streets.
© 2019 Fin