To Vincent Hugh
"This night is monstrous winter when the rats
Swarm in great packs along the waterfront,
When midnight closes in and takes away your name.
And it was Rover, Ginger, Laddie, Prince;
My pleasure hambones. Donned a collar once
With golden spikes, the darling of a cultured home
Somewhere between the harbor and the heights, uptown.
Or is this something curs with lathered mouths invent?
They had a little boy I would have bitten, had I dared.
They threw great bones out on the balcony.
But where? I pant at every door tonight.
I knew this city once the way I know those lights
Blinking in chains along the other side,
These streets that hold the odors of my kind.
But now, my bark a ghost in this strange scentless air,
I am no growling cicerone or cerberus
But wreckage for the pound, snuffling in shame
All cold-nosed toward identity.—Rex? Ginger? No.
A sort of panic jabbering inside begins.
Wild for my shadow in this vacantness,
I can at least run howling toward the bankrupt lights
Into the traffic where bones, cats, and masters swarm.
And where my name must be."
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