Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Pit Bull by Reuben Jackson

Photo by PoPville flickr user AWard Tour

Ed. Note: Reuben Jackson shares poems and other commentary with us from time to time. Today he writes, “I began playing with this variation on Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird” and decided to use the pit bull as a (ahem, ahem) metaphor for the yin and yang of urban existence.”

Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Pit Bull

I. Among twenty sleeping houses, The only restless thing Was the voice of the pit bull. II. I was of three headaches Like a neighborhood In which there are three pit bulls. III. The pit bull paced in the dealer’s yard. It was but a small part …of my anxiety. IV. A man and a dog Are one. A hustler and his stash and a pit bull Are frightening. V. I do know which to prefer, The disdain of neighbors Or the disdain of neighbors, The pit bull breeding Or the policeman rolling his eyes. VI. Raindrops filled the long window With a posse of teardrops. The ghosts of battered pit bulls Crossed it, to and fro. The mood Traced in the shadow Followed me into sleep. VII. O portly brothers of Brightwood, Why do you secretly long for Chocolate Labs? Do you not see how the pit bull Sits at the feet Of the hustlers around you? VIII. I know quieter cities, And black men with unconquered livers; But I know, too, That the pit bull is involved In what I wish I didn’t know. IX. When the pit bull strode into the shadows, It turned the asphalt Into a pungent river. X. At the sight of pit bulls Galloping down Madison, Even the most ardent dog lover Would cry out sharply. XI. He rode over the District of Columbia In a crowded subway. Once, a fear pierced him, In that he mistook A red-headed sister’s ringtone For a pit bull. XII. The block is silent. The pit bull and his owner must be away. XIII. It was evening all afternoon. It was raining And it was going to rain. The forlorn pit bull sat In his dog house.

Reuben Jackson 5/1/11

11 Comment

  • Good stuff! He could be the Don DeLillo of the Hood.

  • This is a tangent, but man do I hate pitbulls… my neighbor, who must work the late shift, often will leave his pitbull unattended all night. The devil creature kept me up until 2ish last night. Is this illegal?

    • The devil creature is not the dog but your neighbor. There are certain requirements that an animal must have – you can call WHS if you want them to check to make sure the dog is being treated humanely (though what is required is a minimum) and lodging such a complaint might get your neighbor to take better care of the dog. Pitbulls are amazing, caring, and loyal beings – the one who is most definitely not in this scenario is your neighbor.

      Washington Humane Society: To Report Cruelty/Neglect and Animal Emergencies 24-Hours a Day
      202-BE-HUMANE (202-234-8626)

    • From what I understand, dogs can be left outside at all times as long as they have adequate shelter and access to water. If the dog’s barking breaks noise ordinances or causes a public nuisance, the owner can be fined. He would then have to keep the dog inside or correct the barking in some way. I personally love pits, but I do know they get really loud so I totally know where you are coming from.

  • Thanks for sharing, Reuben.

  • saf

    Reuben, I’ve missed you.

  • very enjoyable! i will share this 🙂 …thanks!

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