Southeast Asian streets
a chaotic kaleidoscope
of humans, animals, aromas and noise.
vehicles eternally dodging
roads wrenching, churning, clogging
horns and humans yelling,
everybody street-corner storytelling.
a four-legged friend with a patchy fur coat
he’s been through a lot, it's easy to note
he sniffs a delicious scent as it
floats from a nearby plate
soon a man kicks him
and he scampers away.
And there’s Ollie
independent, knows no other way
she’s striving to survive in this tropical bay
paradise for many, a struggle for some
her reflexes tense, ready to attack or to run.
too many distasteful run-ins with humans
loving encounters, none.
white-spotted on black
meanders through the night in search of a snack
sniffing out the next bite -
the city spits occasional scraps.
regurgitations of human consumption
dismal discarded morsels
he devours in darkness out back.
these smog-covered nibbles line his stomach for a while
still hungry when he’s finished,
he curls up in a trash pile.
To be utterly invisible
or reprimanded, chased away
which would you prefer to endure
I can't help but cry as
I hold a litter of puppies
born into a kind of poverty so far under the radar they’re
In a place where the people are impoverished
a diseased homeless dog
is an alien.
Bottom of the barrel,
below the food chain.
I stroke their coats gently,
A future so daunting for such little beings.
The motorbikes, the busses these puppies will dodge,
the miles they’ll walk
grime under the claws
forever searching and wild
follow the nose
kicked, scolded and beaten
that's how it goes.
these innocent creatures
will have to learn young
how to navigate this human-designed
To the one we named Ghost,
hunger carved the shape of your ribs with a chisel so sharp I got whiplash double-checking if you were a walking phantom. In the slightest breeze you’d topple over, your shaking legs jangling like skeleton keys. Knew your previous meal might be your last so we bought you some dinner and you inhaled it fast, then limped over to thank us in your own way. A gentle bow of your forehead,
soul to soul,
For the fur-cloaked solo sailors riding churning asphalt seas
trying to stay afloat in this unforgiving city,
I see the Being behind your mange-ridden coat.
the fleas that you’re scratching can’t penetrate your soul
creature of light born in a difficult time,
an impossible place
I can’t begin to imagine the things you have faced.
For the silent soldiers
the dirt covered warriors,
I wish that this poem could put food in your belly
you all have a story but no way to tell it
I’ll be your conduit, you’ll be my muse
we all just walked a mile in your shoes
I’ll stroke your fur
and my words.
The world's forgotten dogs,
I didn’t forget you.