j o s e p h    y o u n g

Poems on Small Dogs


Someone's sawing wood, and it's about to rain. I can smell the sawdust in the breeze. The girl with the lost cat stops to shield her eyes. "Ouch," she says. "Ouch!" Her bare shoulders are two trucks. She turns and drives them away.

The heating oil man leaves his truck to run up the street. The truck chugs. In sleep, my cat flattens his ears. The oil man comes back with a sandwich wrapped half in paper. He climbs back into the truck and his teeth go to work. The truck chugs, widening the afternoon.

The man in the white t-shirt waves at me, another man in a white t-shirt. He sweeps the alley and I trim back the grape vine. Flies, birds, he has a red dog. Both of their faces are green and awake.

The mornings are blue and green. The rats, what would it be to see them pointing from the trash cans now? I read on the porch. A man with a tattoo on his neck drops his eyes to pass. That's what he chooses, he comes from an old, dark house.

The redhead kid leans over the fence to pluck grapes. "Fuck me," he says, juice running down his arm. I put on water, too oily in the pot. The kid holds grapes in his palm, watching them do nothing.

They smash bottles in the street. The one whose voice hasn't changed yet says, "Go to your train tracks, whore!" The streetlights lie in my blinds. "Aww," one says, having thought of something else.

The only thing alive in the neighborhood are birds, six thousand calls, and the man who works in his yard. The sheet metal sculptures drop rust on his neck. I watch the cat watch something in the corner. The man bends, tears.

The birds sing over the winding of air conditioners. The old lady across the alley has lifted her windows until fall. I listen to the running of her faucet. The breeze moves through her rooms and brushes my walls, carrying pollen and noise.



JOSEPH YOUNG lives in Baltimore. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. Visit him at youngjoseph21@hotmail.com or josephyoung.net.