Time is a dog which haunts you –
is a wolf which stalks you –
hangs, like guilt, round your neck
dragging you down to the grave.
Like Light it allows you
to perceive only a little –
lays bare Man's mortality.
16 October 1978
This poem has never been published before. Light appears in many of my poems, thirty of my adult poems (i.e. the poems from #453 on), and I suspect will appear in a lot of the juvenilia too. Light is, at least in my head, synonymous with truth and in my early poems both are often capitalised. Not sure where I picked up that habit from. It wasn’t from Emily Dickinson because I’ve only read her recently. Clearly I’m doing it to give additional emphasis to the words so I’m a little surprised I didn’t capitalise ‘guilt’ here too. The dog is the same one from ‘Stray’ and he appears in other poems too. For a cat person there are a surprising number of dogs in my poems. I would guess too this is the first time I use outdents to signify the beginnings of sentences. Not really needed here though as the separate stanzas do that quite nicely.
Marc PoKempner, "Tenement Dog," 1974,
Chicago Photography Collective, Chicago