Dog, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The dog trots freely in the street
and sees reality
and the things he sees
are bigger than himself
and the things he sees
are his reality
Drunks in doorways
Moons on trees
The dog trots freely thru the street
and the things he sees
are smaller than himself
Fish on newsprint
Ants in holes
Chickens in Chinatown windows
their heads a block away
The dog trots freely in the street
and the things he smells
smell something like himself
The dog trots freely in the street
past puddles and babies
cats and cigars
poolrooms and policemen
He doesn’t hate cops
He merely has no use for them
and he goes past them
and past the dead cows hung up whole
in front of the San Francisco Meat Market
He would rather eat a tender cow
than a tough policeman
though either might do
And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory
and past Coit’s Tower
and past Congressman Doyle
He’s afraid of Coit’s Tower
but he’s not afraid of Congressman Doyle
although what he hears is very discouraging
very depressing
very absurd
to a sad young dog like himself
to a seriously dog like himself
But he has his own free world to live in
His own fleas to eat
He will not be muzzled
Congressman Doyle is just another
fire hydrant
to him
The dog trots freely in the street
and has his own dog’s life to live
and to think about
and to reflect upon
touching and tasting and testing everything
investigating everything
without benefit of perjury
a real realist
with a real tale to tell
and a real tail to tell it with
a real live
democratic dog
engaged in real
free enterprise
with something to say
about ontology
something to say
about reality
and how to see it
and how to hear it
with his head cocked sideways
at streetcorners
as if he is just about to have
his picture taken
for Victor Records
listening for
His Master’s Voice
and looking
like a living questionmark
into the
great gramaphone
of puzzling existence
with its wondrous hollow horn
which always seems
just about to spout forth
some Victorious answer
to everything

Stolen from Poetry Foundation

About this poem:

We read this poem at school, and I loved it from the first moment on. It reminded me of a gorgeous bronze by Giacometti of a dog with a sagging back.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born 1919) is an American Beat poet and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. He is best known for A Coney Island of the Mind (New York, 1958), a collection of poems translated into nine languages. In 1953, Ferlinghetti and Martin founded City Lights Bookstore, the first all-paperbound bookshop in the country, and he launched the publishing wing of City Lights and published Beat Generation writers, including Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The book was seized in 1956 by the San Francisco police, and Ferlinghetti and the bookstore manager who had sold the book to the police were arrested on obscenity charges. After a long trial, Howl was found to be not obscene and Ferlinghetti was aquitted in October 1957. The landmark First Amendment case established a key legal precedent for the publication of other controversial literary work with redeeming social importance.

I remembered this poem after an online discussion with Heike and Christian about Charlotte Link’s Roche’s “Feuchtgebiete” (which I don’t like) and one of their friends mentioned Bukowski, whom I mixed up with Bulgakov, whose book “Heart of a Dog” I love, which again reminded me that any down to earth description of our human weaknesses benefits from the absurd, surreal, imaginative (which Charlotte Link Roche lacks, I feel). … But then I realized my error and seem to remember that Bukowski is just as down and dirty as Charlotte Link Roche is, but still thinking he’s cool. Sheeeesh. So now that I’ve gone off on a tangent to no place and have managed to enjoyably waste half of the morning – make that afternoon – , I’m sitting here wondering:

Do we forgive men writing up their physical excesses, and not women? Are men who write about their grunts creating art, while women create, um, non-art?

So this post is dedicated to Heike and Christian.

e. e. cummings: if there are any heavens

if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself)have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses

my father will be(deep like a rose
tall like a rose)

standing near my

(swaying over her
with eyes which are really petals and see

nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
which whisper
This is my beloved my

(suddenly in sunlight

he will bow,

& the whole garden will bow)

Muff, 31 Dec. 1922 – 20 Nov. 2009

Shel Silverstein: Long Scarf

Eric Anderson recites “Long Scarf”, a poem from Shel Silverstein‘s book, FALLING UP.

You ask me to take off my scarf
And sit down and rest for a while?
That’s sweet of you–but before I do,
I’ll tell you a story, my child.

Some years ago I fought a duel
With the Count Doomandread,
And I slipped and tripped
And his sword just clipped
My neck–and sliced off my head.

I scooped it up and put it back,
But it didn’t quite connect,
So I tied this scarf around it
Just to keep it on my neck.

That’s why I always keep it on,
‘Cause if it did unwrap,
This wobbly chopped-off head of mine
Might tumble in your lap.

So now you’ve heard my tale, and if
It will not make you ill,
And you’d still like me to
Take off my scarf…
I will!!

Neil Gaiman: Instructions

Thank you, Chris, for posting this lovely video of Neil Gaiman reading his poem “Instructions”, © 2000 (from: A Wolf at the Door). It’s about what to do if you find yourself inside a fairytale. Good instructions for real life, really, as Jan pointed out today.


Gertrud Berninger (written ca. 1943-5)

Das Kinderzimmer gelb und blau,
der Mann im Mond, die Nebelfrau
und rosenrote Tapeten;
zubettegehn beim Angelus
den jeder Christ beten muß,
den frühen und den späten.

Den frühen und den späten:
er ruft nicht einen Jeden,
das haben wir gelernt.
Die Nacht war mit Kometen,
mit Glanz und Glück besternt –
wer kann da Ave beten!

Die Nacht ist prasselnd ausgebrannt
zu Morgengraun und Niemandsland,
zu Asche auf unsern Zungen.
Wir wachten bis zum Angelus
den jeder Christ beten muß:
Die Glocke war zersprungen.

Die Glocken warn zersprungen
und die Erinnerungen.
Wir bauten uns ein Haus aus Leid
– kein Lied ward da gesungen –
und siedelten stumm in der stummen Zeit
in des Tityrus Niederungen.

Da schlägt die Wachtel früh am Fluß,
der schlafenden Stadt zum Überdruß,
uns aber zum Herzen, zum Herzen:
Das ist der neue Angelus
den jeder Christ beten muß
zum Dank für Schmerzen.

Off to see my mother for a week. She wrote the above undated poem towards the end of WW2.

e. e. cummings: somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

Complete poem on

For R., Personenschaden, 14 July 1989