The Howl

It was already a heartbreak drive
 one of those days
 spent yearning for a former lover
 the wheel steers a bit slower
 I find myself generally less aware
 readily avoiding
 eye-contact with strangers.
  
 I make the same exit every day
 the one with the homeless man on the corner
 scrawny and tall
 with a little black dog
 he seeks to lock eyes
 an emotional alchemist of sorts
 turning guilt to money.
  
 I’ve seen it all before
 I know the story
 worked at the gas station down the street
 for many years
 seen sorrow on two legs
 in various forms.
  
 One with a leather jacket
 and nicer shoes than mine
 snags a coffee every morning
 but his walk remains strikingly slow
 as if he knows
 he’s welcome in no place
 and passes the day 
 by moving, alone.
  
 Another lady screams
 frequently on the sidewalk
 her head twisting in circles
 even the shopping cart looks afraid
 as it rolls the other way.
  
 There are countless others
 some dealt a bad hand
 many addicted
 never having felt love
 others choose the life
 for the freedom
 they’re always the most functional of the bunch
 you can’t feel sad
 when they tell you it’s what they want
 and there are days
 when I catch a scene 
 which fills me with some sorrow 
 but today it flowed over me
 crashed and smacked me in the head
 as I watched a cop detain this particular man.
  
 He’s screaming
 hands held in the metal
 forced to the ground
 it’s difficult 
 but I’m watching with more curiosity than grief
 until I see the dog
 tied to the big black backpack
 five times his size 
 he pushes to his owner
 with such ambition
 the pack starts to move behind him
 as he barks at the cop
 who tries to calm both down.
  
 I could hear the pain in the howl
 the poor hound
 has no greater understanding
 he only knows his ride-or-die
 is being taken from him.
  
 I wonder if it's not the first time
 or if it’s simply intuition
 I can’t speak for the man
 but the dog has done no conscious wrong
 and on this day
 the sadness of the situation
 has shattered me.  
Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian from Northern California. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

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