THE UGLY SPIRIT


Walking my old near-dead dog in Providence,

a mean young dog goes after her, bites. She yelps.

I look in the owner’s eyes: nothing, no apology,

he and his wife’s dead-pan says, So?

I pick up the old mutt and hold her.

Is this how we end? It may be that dogs

absorb the social world and play it back to us

without hypocrisy, sensing the fascism to come.

Now, older myself, a woman

in the River Valley Coop parking lot is screaming at me

because I’m by mistake driving the wrong way

against the arrows. She goes on howling,

wagging her finger. I stop and watch her,

fascinated by her rage, disproportionate to the offense.

Why is she so angry? Not at me, certainly. Her husband?

Her father? In a time of the Ugly Spirit we spit our toxins,

one broken soul bares its fangs to another.

In 1939 Germany, people with their ear to the ground

begin to leave. But where is there to go now?

We carry our poison glands through customs without a hitch.

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