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 this has happened before
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 or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

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