The Dog Does Backflips Into the Night

April 14, 2017


I take the little black mutt by its hind legs and yank him from his foundation, his front paws yearning for ground but not quite reaching. He can feel the intent in my grip as I load up for the throw, his whimpers desperate, final gasps—he’s just a dog who barks too much and can’t be potty-trained; he’s thick-boned and clumsy, his face is only getting worse since puppyness and he was ugly then; and his breath reeks every morning scratching for attention fouling up the room—nobody will miss him.


I’m on an overpass on the I-10 in Pomona. It is night, well past zero, the dog’s whines drowned out by the 70 mph traffic thirty feet below. A tanker rolls under in a tempest.


This black thing can’t weigh more than 10 pounds, I think, its hind legs caught in my wrestler’s grip. I squat for full effect; it gets one last scratch of solid ground before I, like a strongman hurling a keg over a wall, launch this yelping mutt up at the moon. It does backflips into the night.


I think I hear a car horn and a screech as I turn home, my maniacal laughter the same decibel as the traffic and the black night. A soundless sleep.


What the fuck kind of poetry is this, you might ask.

I wonder the same thing.

I should be arrested for writing this down,

Not to mention trying to print it,

The police should storm my door right now for even thinking these thoughts, shouldn’t they? Fuck them.


Put your hand up if you haven’t seen death re-made on primetime, if you haven’t watched a liveleak execution where someone’s head spills into in the desert sand, a gif of a plane explosion, a 50 cal shredding infidels, an SVU episode where there isn’t semen and blood on the walls, or two women tearing each-others’ frizzled hair out on worldstar, “let the bodies hit the floor” soundtracking a club shooting.


We hung a man on CPTV to herald in this new century—not lynchers or gangsters or foreign terrorists, this American government—Saddam’s neck snapping at 90 degrees of justice, a fat tongue. Good photoshoppers made green ooze from his mouth, turned him into a meme before there were memes, then he went and did a South Park encore the next day.


Put your hand up if you’ve walked through the streets without spit and slur being hurled at you, the fear of a glass bottle crashing the back of your skull, a twitch in your eye from wincing all the time. Because, if not, right now, on r/watchpeopledie there’s a potluck worth of death to choose from. Brains and legs on the train tracks, a truckbed full of Mexicans flipping over at 50 mph their shoes flying in the air, vacant eyes staring into a grainy camera during a jailhouse gang stabbing, a Chinese motorcyclist slamming into the back of a stationary truck, the dust from his old green skull poofing into the air.


My personal favorite: dashcam footage of a car tailgating a truck on a two-lane country road. We watch a loose brick hail down from the trucktop, bite the pavement, jump through the windshield like a shot. The camera continues forward, we see no blood, just hear the man’s screams, awful screams, some foreign tongue but we know his words exactly. He’s lost his wife in the passenger seat. Innocuous like that. Flawless victory. Fatality. And they say this is a generation that hasn’t suffered war. Here it is. Right at your fingertips. Lust for it.


And don’t gripe me over the dog toss, okay. Not in a world where killing is built into our DNA, our clouds, our lineage, our every tale since before the Bible, and these two throbbing hands, mine and yours—you’ve thought about choking a child, haven’t you? about the sound of a bullet slunking a vital organ, about your own mother on the gallows. Well, now you have.


This fiction is just a tribute to your violence porn, your bloodlust, your dronings and public stonings. Is it too much to see in print, where it can’t be erased?


Fine. Fine.


Doing backflips above traffic, the dog lands gently in a truckbed filled with hay. It sleeps through to the farm. The driver had been looking for a mutt to help with the sheep. 

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