For the Dogs who Barked at Me on the Sidewalks in Connecticut: By Hanif Abdurraqib

man dog streets walking
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Darlings, if your owners say you are / not usually like this / then I must take them / at their word / I am like you / not crazy about that which towers before me / particularly the buildings here / and the people inside / who look at my name / and make noises / that seem like growling / my small and eager darlings / what it must be like / to have the sound for love / and the sound for fear / be a matter of pitch / I am afraid to touch / anyone who might stay / long enough to make leaving / an echo / there is a difference / between burying a thing you love / for the sake of returning / and leaving a fresh absence / in a city’s dirt / looking for a mercy / left by someone / who came before you / I am saying that I / too / am at a loss for language / can’t beg myself / a doorway / out of anyone / I am not usually like this either / I must apologize again for how adulthood has rendered me / us, really 
/ I know you all forget the touch / of someone who loves you / in two minutes / and I arrive to you / a constellation of shadows / once hands / listen darlings / there is a sky / to be pulled down / into our bowls / there is a sweetness for us / to push our faces into / I promise / I will not beg for you to stay this time / I will leave you to your wild galloping / I am sorry / to hold you again / for so long / I am in the mood / to be forgotten.

 

 

 

The subject of the poem is how the narrator sympathizes with the dogs who barked at her on the sidewalks in Connecticut, and how she believes how the owners say that they aren’t usually like this. She understands that dogs can’t help themselves when it comes to certain things, like barking at passing cars. The structure includes a forward slash between every few syllables, with no rhyming pattern.  There is some figurative language in this poem, like “Listen darlings, there is a sky to be pulled down into our bowls,” or “I will leave you to your wild galloping.” The theme of this poem is this:      Dogs can’t help being dogs.

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