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Jefferson


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Jefferson lives behind us and fights his dogs. Claims
he trains them to sell to the police force. Our laundry
line is four feet from his chain-link fence. When he comes

over to bum a hit from Brin, he makes a sharp
point of friendly. I compliment his hats—
he wears several: a black fedora, a fur

Cossack’s. He’s thick necked, broad chested, short legged—
in one hat he wears a feather. I sold him my
punching bag for forty dollars a week before

Christmas last year. (He still owes me five.) His dogs
are scarred and ugly. Dog=strength=money=
dogs are stolen. Someone even braved Jefferson’s Pit;

two of the litter were taken, before weaned, one
for each bent arm. It seemed to pain Jefferson.
His yellow bull shows the rips down her front more than

others. She’s old. He got her on loan from one
of the men who visit him. They talk in circles,
winding towards an old rhythm. I hang laundry—

the smell of something ancient sinks into my clothes.
Jefferson trains a new one, a Lab—throws him on
the biggest dog, a moment—they tear into faces,

hot throats. He says, “Get ’em boy! Hup hup!” Then pulls
the big one off by its thick tail. The dogs know his
composure—he knows what they’re thinking. He doesn’t

beat them, but stands over them holding a cane. There’s
no grass in his yard. He looks at me and says, “You
know sometime you gotta do what you can.” I say,

“Yeah I know, sometimes you gotta do what you can.”



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post #232
bio: john ball
perma-link
4/9/2008
10:28

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April - National Poetry Month 2008

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